Reforming the global economy
An emergency relief programme can only form an initial stage in a broader agenda to overhaul the global economy and address the structural causes of our present social, political, economic and environmental crises.
The scale and complexity of such a task is unparalleled; never before have representatives from all nations engaged in an effective dialogue that links the full range of critical global issues - from poverty and environmental protection to world trade and financial reform - and seeks to establish new global rules and institutions that can bring us closer to a more equal world. In order to achieve an international consensus on how to reform the global economy, an extensive UN-led consultation process must be initiated with input from civil society groups, governments, relevant global agencies and institutions, as well as representatives from the private sector.
As outlined in the following website sections, the minimum aim of these negotiations should be to agree upon the reformed structural and redistributive arrangements required to:
- Guarantee access to adequate social protection and essential public services for all people in all countries.
- Establish a just and sustainable global food system and guarantee universal access to nutritious food as a basic human right.
- Ensure that all people and nations can access and consume a fair share of the world’s resources without transgressing environmental limits.
Regardless of how nations agree to organise a global framework that enables a more equity-based and sustainable distribution of resources, the implications for existing institutions, policies and financing mechanisms are immense and all-encompassing. A new vision of our global interdependence is called for, with profound changes in international economic relations on the basis of true cooperation and shared sacrifice. A fairer distribution of wealth, power and resources on a worldwide basis will require more inclusive structures of global governance and institutional reforms that go far beyond existing development efforts to reduce poverty, push for fairer trade and provide compensatory aid.
A programme of priorities
Over six years since the financial collapse of 2008, governments have yet to restructure financial and monetary systems or impose tighter regulations on the banking sector and speculative activity. Particular attention must be paid to establishing a balanced global financial architecture with a stable international reserve currency, and many proposals exist for money to be created through a democratic and transparent body working in the public interest. Furthermore, popular calls to clamp down on tax havens and cancel unjust and unpayable debts in developing countries are long overdue, and remain essential to achieving a more equal distribution of the world’s financial resources.
A more viable approach to managing national economies will require a significant rethink of Western notions of development, a more holistic vision of our relationship to the natural environment, and a reconceptualisation of financial measures like GDP as the main yardstick for national and social progress. Environmental challenges – from climate change to the depletion and degradation of natural resources – mean it is inevitable that governments must reconsider the relentless push towards trade liberalisation, as well as the dominance of consumption-led economic growth over government policy. Much needs to be done to dismantle the culture of consumerism, and investment much shift dramatically towards building and sustaining a low-carbon infrastructure, alongside a vast array of energy and resource efficiency measures.
To counter the growing concentration of financial and economic power in the hands of a small number of multinational corporations, governments should also support policies that increase the control that citizens have over their local economies, especially in developing countries. State funding should be directed to local initiatives in order to help diversify economies and encourage social cohesion and local economic renewal, alongside greater support for cooperative businesses and mutual enterprises that redistribute economic activity back into towns and communities. An increased focus on domestic markets would also boost opportunities for stable employment in local industries, and help restore local and national self-reliance in meeting essential needs.
The issues highlighted above provide only a snapshot of a comprehensive agenda for economic transformation, different aspects of which are widely promoted by various campaign groups worldwide. The challenge of enacting any of these reforms is essentially a democratic one that requires civil society to reassert their right to determine the future direction of economic policy, and to ensure that politicians honour their responsibility to serve the needs of ordinary people. For governance systems to be inclusive, effective and respectful of economic and cultural diversity, citizens must be given the opportunity to engage in the decision making process at all levels of society – from the local to the global.
The following sections introduce the three major areas of focus for global negotiations highlighted above, and explain why these reforms will require an unprecedented degree of international cooperation and economic sharing to ensure their success: