Despite a well-publicized once-in-a-decade meeting that brought government officials, businesses, and NGOs from 188 nations to the negotiation table, the Rio+20 environmental summit has concluded on Friday with no enforceable commitments on climate change and other ecological crises, frustrating participants and civil society alike. Some progress was made on the sidelines through NGOs and businesses, but there was an overarching failure to acknowledge the planetary boundaries that limit economic activity as currently constituted.
European leaders have begun to discuss options for moving forward with a process called “enhanced cooperation,” in which nine or more members of the EU agree to work on a proposal together, to bring a trans-European financial transactions tax to fruition. Vocal supporters for this process include German Chancellor Angela Markel, Austrian Finance Minister Maria Fekter, and leaders in France, Italy, Spain, Greece, and Poland.
Economics, Finance, Governance, and Ethics for the Anthropocene, a working paper of the Capital Institute-housed Third Millennium Economy project, was released last Thursday for public review in advance of the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development. As the civil society groups and grassroots activists meet now and world leaders arrive later this week, the paper is a flag in the ground that offers a new vision for addressing our global ecological crisis. Our report, written with a team of leading scholars, lays out many of the challenges posed by the unjust economics that have lead us into ecological overshoot and delineates a number of leverage points for change.
A team of researchers from MIT released The Limits to Growth, a book based on their computer modeling of the interactions between economic growth and resource limits, forty years ago to a swell of controversy and conversation. In the years since, much of their modeling has held up, but somehow the issues they raised have disappeared from policy debates. Italian film-maker Enrico Cerasuolo is now working on a film titled Last Call that attempts to show bring The Limits to Growth back into our global discussions about the ecological crises happening around us and how to address them.
Last weekend, Capital Institute was privileged to present at and attend the New Economic Institute’s Strategies for a New Economy<http://neweconomicsinstitute.org/conference> conference. The conference was an unmitigated success, bringing together a diverse group of new economy movement builders including small business people, community organizers, advocates of alternative currencies, local bankers, campaign finance reformers, and many more. We enjoyed getting to meet a great number of the over 500 attendees and to learn more about all of their exciting work from the local to the national level.
Last week, the Capital Institute team was invited to present some of the findings from our work at the NoVo Foundation. We enjoyed immensely the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and build some new relationships, and appreciate all the efforts of both the NoVo Foundation and RSF Social Finance that made the event possible.
Last Wednesday evening at Cooper Union in New York, The Buckminster Fuller Challenge, named "Socially-Responsible Design's Highest Award" by Metropolis Magazine, presented its 2012 award to The Living Building Challenge. The Living Building Challenge is a building standard framework and certification program that is defining the highest possible level of environmental performance in the built environment. Future of Fish took home the Challenge's runner-up award.
We were honored to be invited to participate on the jury this year and look forward to following the promising work of all of this year's nominees.
Dr. Mathis Wackernagel and Dr. William Rees, co-creators of the Ecological Footprint, have been named the winners of the 2012 Kenneth E. Boulding Award, the world’s top honor in the field of ecological economics. The biennial award is given to “outstanding individuals who have contributed original and seminal approaches that have furthered our understanding of the interfaces between the social, ecological, ethical, economic and political dimensions of our world,” said The International Society for Ecological Economics in announcing the award.
Despite the financial crash of 2008 and the passage of the subsequent Dodd-Frank reform bill, not enough has been done thus far to address the issue of too big to fail banks. With assets equivalent to 64% of GDP concentrated amongst six of the largest Wall Street banks today, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has recently introduced the Safe, Accountable, Fair & Efficient Banking Act of 2012. The bill, which has wide-ranging support from the likes of former the Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, Republican ranking member on the Banking Committee Richard Shelby, President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas Richard Fisher, FDIC Board member Thomas Hoenig, Former Chairman of the FDIC Sheila Bair, economist Simon Johnson, Stanford finance professor Anat Admati, and former governor of Utah Jon Huntsman, was introduced by Senator Brown prior to a hearing entitled “Is Simpler Better? Limiting Support for Financial Institutions.” It seeks to impose strict limits on institutions' deposit and non-deposit liabilities and requires them to hold considerably more capital, reducing their leverage. In short, the bill seeks to break up big banks and prevent them from putting the nation’s economy at risk.