22 Ways to Create the Economy that Protects Both People and Environment

  1. There should be a very important role for the government. Of course market forces have an important place, but left to themselves these also have many limitations and hence an important role of the government in the economy is a must.
  2. There should be an important role for planning. In fact the need for planning has increased in times of environment crisis. To give an example, while earlier we needed models for meeting the needs of all people within various resources constraints, now we need models with the additional requirement of reducing GHG emissions.
  3. While reducing inequalities was always a highly desirable objective to improve welfare and satisfaction levels of people, the need for this has increased further with the additional condition that GHG emissions have to be contained. Hence equality and justice should be very important guiding precepts for the economy.
  4. Meeting the basic needs and small comforts of all people in satisfactory ways should be the most important guiding objective of the economy.
  5. Protection of environment should at all times be a very important objective of the economy and of economic policy.
  6. Policies of justice and environment protection should go hand in with mobilization of people on these policies so that behavioral patterns of people are in keeping with these policies of justice and environment protection.
  7. The concept of voluntary simplicity or voluntarily limiting consumption should be encouraged in various creative ways while the dominant concept of consumerism should be discouraged.
  8. In particular many goods which are particularly harmful for health and environment, are highly wasteful and high luxury products, should be very actively discouraged and reduced.
  9. The economy should give more attention to rural life and villages, as there is greater scope for environmental regeneration in rural areas, with special emphasis on ecologically friendly farming and production of healthy, safe food by small famers and family farms. Urban areas should also emphasize environment protection, with more emphasis on smaller cities and towns than on mega-cities.
  10. Many sustainable livelihoods should also be created around forest-based economy, where emphasis is more on protection of forests, biodiversity and nature.
  11. Creation of creative, satisfactory and sustainable livelihoods—jobs with joy—should be a central plank of the economy, with creative livelihoods being matched to meet the real needs of people.
  12. Speculative activities should be checked and curbed at all levels and the emphasis should be on strengthening the real economy rather than the financial one.
  13. Growth for the sake of growth and guidance by GNP-type indicators should be discouraged, while the emphasis shifts to the real well-being of people and environment protection.
  14. The domestic market should be emphasized instead of the export market. Local self-reliance to the extent it is realistic and productive should be encouraged. Small-scale entrepreneurs at local levels should be encouraged.
  15. Decentralized governance and decision making which is conducive to more self-reliance at local level should be encouraged. The concept of villages as substantially self-reliant units should be encouraged in highly creative ways.
  16. Consumer interests should be protected with emphasis on quality products available at reasonable price with relatively lower profit margins, with the highest emphasis placed on healthy and safe food for all.
  17. All economic decision making at high as well as local levels should be transparent and honest.
  18. The economy belongs to all people. No individual or billionaire should be allowed to exercise a controlling role in the economy or any sector of the economy.
  19. Trade of course has the important role of helping various people to meet their needs in better ways, but any resort to imposed trade rules which ruin local livelihoods and harm environment by imposing products of distant places should be resisted.
  20. External economic relations and dialogue should be such as to enhance the welfare of people everywhere, exchanging creative ideas, mutual learning from the good practices of each other, generously sending much needed help to people in emergency situations anywhere and ending tax havens.
  21. Democratic participation of people in economic decision making, making use of their creative ideas to bring further improvements and/or initiating early corrective measures whenever mistakes are made should be encouraged at local as well as higher levels.
  22. As far as the agenda of dominating international financial and trade institutions like the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO is concerned, this should be rolled up like a football, then the country’s champion footballer should be summoned to give it such a big kick that it goes far, far away.

Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Protecting Earth for Children, Planet in Peril, Earth without Borders, Man over Machine, A Day in 2071 and India’s Quest for Sustainable Farming and Healthy Food.                 

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