Economic transformation requires a change in worldviews

Progress Namibia - Economic transformation requires a change in worldviews
11 June 2018

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Reading a great book written by colleague and friend Maja Göpel called the Great Mindshift: How a New Economic Paradigm and Sustainability Transformations go Hand in Hand. I think most of us, albeit not all, agree that the only way we will deal with the extreme challenges we face as a global society and achieve a better life for all, is if we change the entire economic system, along with its current measurements. Those in agreement with this adopt a view that ecological systems host sociocultural systems and that economic systems are a subordinate means in successfully structuring human-nature relations. This is radically different to the view of the mainstream paradigm that pursues the ongoing integration of social and environmental concerns into economic governance logics by pricing them.

Göpel speaks about humans as individuals agreeing that the current system does not work, but then collectively acting as part of the current system. A trap, so to speak. She purports 'no one I know is not in favour of peace, of letting nature thrive and enabling every person and animal to live a life of dignity. So why is this not possible?' How do we make this possible, through individuals changing the system collectively?

Radically repurposing the agenda (towards our global Vision 2030) would mean recoupling economic processes with human wellbeing and nature's law by making the economic dimension the one that needs changing. Given the current structural reality, the foremost strategy for successive change in this direction, she argues, i.e. the incremental strategies that can achieve it - is 'double-decoupling', namely:

1. Decouple the production of goods and services from unsustainable, wasteful or uncaring treatment of humans, nature and animals (do better).
2. Decouple the satisfaction of human needs from the imperative to deliver ever more economic output (do well).

As she says, the second has been given much less attention because the worldview informed by the current and mainstream economic paradigm cannot even countenance it. So, what we will need to do first is change our own worldviews. How many of us have transformative literacy (transformational and transformative are both words that do not have meaning, and thus their deserved weight, for many people, which is why they often cannot completely fathom the radical transformation needed to achieve the SDGs), as well as futures literacy (people's capacity to imagine futures that are not based on hidden, unexamined and sometimes flawed assumptions about present and past systems)?

Some Monday food for thought as we navigate our space to a better future for all...