Transition Networks Rob Hopkins and the Post-Carbon Institutes Asher Miller have published a report urging environmentalists to embrace post-growth economics and an approach to economic development that doesn’t prioritize growth but aims to build Community Resilience.
They identify the barriers which prevent political decision makers and even environmental advocacy organisations from genuinely questioning the pursuit of economic growth and the need for communities to set an example:
“Any approach that explicitly questions assumptions
about economic growth is distinctly at odds with the
systemic economic and political incentives that guide
our leaders. Therefore, it falls to individuals and
communities to take the lead. How? By challenging
conventional thinking and by showing that a different
future is not only inevitable, it’s preferable. That
different future must be based not on economic
growth but on community resilience. Efforts that build
resilience will make it easier to navigate the 21st
century’s “new normals.” Done right, they will also
serve as the foundation of a whole new economy—an
economy comprised of people and communities that
thrive within the real limits of our finite planet.”
Hopkins and Millers concept of community resilience provides a useful frame for understanding what Steady State Manchester is trying to achieve by advocating post-carbon and post-growth approaches to the way the city develops.
What does basing economic development on building community resilience mean in practice? It means reducing that communities exposure and contribution to shocks, whether environmental or economic, and its ability to withstand them. There are characteristics of resilient systems we can identify and draw on: modularity, tighter feedback loops etc.
But in real terms it means actions which bring us closer to a community that does some of the following key things:
“…meets a growing proportion of the local economy’s needs for food, energy, building materials, and employment opportunities from as near as possible.” (And, we would add, does so in ways which increase equality, cooperation and shared ownership.)
“It measures its progress in terms of broader indicators of well-being, rather than just economic performance.”
“And it seeks to maximize the opportunities for “inward investment” (the community investing in itself)— particularly towards the financing of ongoing resilience-building enterprises.”
These three things are by no means exhaustive of what building community resilience means, nor are they adequate measures to ensure an economy operates within ecological limits, but they are three clear objectives for economic development which we are working to make common sense for decision makers in Manchester.