Triodos Bank UK recently had the opportunity to ask Tim about why this model isn’t future-proof, and what alternative he would propose.
Watch the video:
Work as meaningful participation in society
The first thing that Tim touched on in our economic system is the thing that is closest to all of us: work. For him, work is more than simply a way of making an income, it is part of what holds our society together. This will flourish when we are allowed to take time and give attention to good work. Areas like craft industries, social care and creativity will restore work’s value to society.
Enterprise as service
Business shouldn’t be about making more and more ‘stuff’, it should be about delivering good services that improve the quality of our lives. Rarely do we purchase a thing itself—we purchase what that thing can do for us. For instance we don’t really buy a smartphone, we buy connectivity. When the goal of business is ‘dematerialised’, businesses can figure out how to best serve human and ecological communities rather than trying to extract value out of natural resources.
“When the goal of business is ‘dematerialised’, businesses can figure out how to best serve human and ecological communities rather than trying to extract value out of natural resources”
Investment as commitment
Investment has had a PR problem for the last ten years: the casino economy crashed the system and we continue to live out the consequences. But investment is the way in which we relate to the future and where we invest our money shows what type of future we are committed to. Investment should create ways to finance good work and good business, funnelling money into the creation and protection of social and environmental assets that can unlock good work and good business.
Money as social good
Money needs to support the long-term prosperity of our communities. Currently our money system allows banks to create money and lend it to projects that will maximize their return. But our money needs to have a social purpose. Government can help here by directing the money system to meet this need. But banks like Triodos, which uses customer deposits to finance sustainable projects, are already using money for good.
An economy that works
Taken together, work, enterprise, investment and money make up the foundational elements of a modern economy. Our current reality employs all four to promote continually increasing consumption that accumulates wealth for a few at the top of the food chain. In an economy of prosperity, these characteristics need to be reimagined and deployed in a way that serves communities and creates lasting prosperity.
Tim Jackson is Professor of Sustainable Development at the University of Surrey and Director of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP). He currently holds a Professorial Fellowship on Prosperity and Sustainability in the Green Economy (PASSAGE) funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). He is also an award-winning playwright with numerous radio-writing credits for the BBC.
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