The Schumacher Center for a New Economics sends news of this year’s Left Forum annual gathering in New York, which will be exploring ways of confronting climate change and global economic crisis and creating a more equitable and ecologically resilient world.

Such a world will require economic institutions which respond to local and regional needs and conditions, decentralising control of land, natural resources, industry, and financing to serve the people living in an area in an equitable way.

An infrastructure that encourages local production of food goods and services for local needs will be needed; the tools for building strong regional economies include:

  • community land trusts,
  • worker-owned and worker-managed businesses,
  • non-profit local banks,
  • and regional currencies

Farming: the cornerstone of strong regional economies

Successful farmers operating at an appropriate scale are the cornerstones of strong regional economies. They care for the soil and water, produce healthy food for diverse markets, employ others and support themselves. However, the current valuation of land makes it nearly impossible for farmers to capitalize a business, sustain a livelihood, build equity, and still afford secure long-term access to land.

Import replacement
In our globalized economy the tools that supported local production for local consumption have been lost and in a system where financial tools, education, and community expectations are turned toward the global, the convenient, and the cheap, how can regional “import-replacing” businesses be helped to establish themselves and succeed?

Building a responsible movement for a new economy will require planning how to create new jobs without increased growth.  One approach is a strategy of import-replacement, with more labor intensive, smaller batch production, transported over shorter distances.

The goal would be to create more jobs, but not more “stuff,” with a smaller carbon footprint overall.  This is an ambitious objective, but it is necessary if we are to transition to an economic system that is equitable and sustainable.