After having spent his early career in the City of London, Tony Greenham now leads the finance and business research team at the New Economics Foundation. He talks here about how he lost faith in the unfettered capital markets, what it will take to transform the mainstream banking sector, the value of his involvement in the Transition Towns movement, and why we need “investment grade” policymaking.
Peter Victor–eminent ecological economist, winner of the Canadian Council for the Arts' prestigious Molson Award, and author of Managing Without Growth–challenges us to reframe our economic discussions to focus on managing material and energy flows rather than GDP growth.
Gar Alperovitz—writer, historian, political economist, think tank founder, and one of the visionaries behind the Evergreen Cooperatives—talks about his life's work helping to prepare the ground for the systemic institutional and policy changes that will be required to broaden the ownership of capital in America and transform our throwaway cities into stable, sustainable economies.
The former president of the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation talks about his crusade to create harmony between the "purpose" of a foundation and its investment practices
Juliet Schor, a Professor of Sociology at Boston College, writes and lectures on the connections between consumerism, work life, and environmental sustainability. She is a founding board member of the Center for a New American Dream and author of the best-seller The Overworked American: the Unexpected Decline of Leisure, of The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don’t Need, and Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture.
We spoke with Schor about her new book Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth (published as True Wealth in paperback), in which she questions the conventional wisdom that maximizing income and growth is the path to well-being.
Over the course of his fifteen-year tenure as a senior executive with the Louis Dreyfus Group, Simon Rich had an opportunity to observe a troubling trend firsthand--the increasingly unsustainable dependence of the global agricultural sector on fossil fuels coupled with the inevitable depletion of global petroleum reserves. Louis Dreyfus holds a major position in global oil seeds, cereals, cotton and orange juice processing and merchandising, and is active in the global petroleum, natural gas, and electricity sectors as both a producer and merchant. As a matter of course, the company monitors global supply and demand for energy and foodstuffs on virtually a real-time basis. Global food prices and the price of natural gas and oil have been ever more closely correlated in an era when petroleum products have become a critical component of food production and transport. But in the late 1990s, that correlation became a heightened cause for concern as energy analysts throughout the world and within Louis Dreyfus began to warn of the phenomenon of peak oil.
Many members of the Capital Institute community believe that the emerging markets for ecosystem services hold considerable promise as tools for redirecting the flow of capital toward economic activities that honor ecosystem constraints. However, a paper that recently circulated among us entitled "The Environmentality of 'Earth Incorporated'" raised some questions that challenge that belief. The author, Sian Sullivan, argues that the “intrinsic fallacy at the heart” of ecosystem services market initiatives is that they attempt to incentivize environmentally ethical behavior. She maintains that the market does not produce “virtuous behavior” and that it is essentially naïve to take the view that if only we design them correctly we can halt or reverse ecosystem degradation. She further states that the danger of these market initiatives is that they promote the “valuing of nature as money,” and do not acknowledge “nature's immanence or sentience,” or the reality that humans are merely one of many “companions” in nature’s community. Sullivan’s argument might lead one to conclude that efforts to save our fragile ecosystems should be focused more on shifting humanity’s view of its place in the natural order rather than harnessing the financial markets to restore that natural order.
"It has always been so obvious to me that if you change the scorecard you change the game," says Hazel Henderson.
Capital Institute owes much to the thought leaders who have helped frame our perspective on “the purpose of capital," and Hazel Henderson is among those to whom we are most indebted. Hazel never ceases to amaze me. Susan Witt, Executive Director of the E. F. Schumacher Society, once described Hazel as a "national treasure." It's true. Never formally trained in economics, Hazel's grasp of the subject, particularly its shortcomings, is remarkable. Hazel is a systems thinker, with a unique grasp of the multiple disciplines necessary to be able to see, holistically, the systemic challenges we face. Yet it's Hazel's intellect, energy, passion, generosity, and drive, often against the grain where it can be lonely, year after year, "self inflicted" I might add, that is so special. I owe a great personal debt to my teacher, advisory board member, and inspirational friend, Hazel Henderson. —John Fullerton, Founder, Capital Institute
The chair of the board of this innovative holding company talks about Upstream 21's alternative transition strategies for small companies, as well as the challenges of channeling growth and profits in directions that have the most benefits for the most people and the environment.