by Rupert Read and Helena Norberg-Hodge
Many of us around the world are broadly agreed on the fundamental challenges we face, which include:
- deadly environmental degradation
- increasing, extreme inequality
- the erosion of democracy
- a bloated and reckless financial sector
We can make these problems worse by continuing to hand over power to a volatile global market dominated by unaccountable banks and corporations. Or we can start moving in the opposite direction by re-establishing more accountable and democratic structures, and drawing on ancient wisdom and on simple common-sense, creating a society that works at a more human scale. This boils down to a choice between:
- continuing a process of economic ‘globalisation’ (in reality, this means: corporatisation) driven primarily by the deregulation of trade and finance through free trade treaties
- supporting a systemic shift towards localisation — working together to provide a framework that will allow the secure re-establishment of national, regional and local polities and economies that meet real human needs without compromising the natural world on which all life depends.
In the pages that follow we will outline the fundamental features of these two paths. We will argue that the globalisation path is not only ecologically suicidal, it also has a wide range of social, economic and psychological costs; conversely, we will show that the localisation path has multiple social, economic and environmental benefits. Finally, we will describe how a shift towards the local might be accomplished, and what it demands of us in terms of action.
This Pamphlet will argue that we need to relocalise in order to avert potentially extreme social and environmental breakdown. Rather than having corporations run roughshod over our societies — over our future — we need to put them back on some kind of leash. And, although this task appears daunting at first, localisation is actually an easier path to follow than the impossible road to ‘economic-globalisation-with-a-human-face’.
It is important to emphasise that localisation does not mean isolation or nationalism. In fact, international collaboration will be imperative if we are to successfully relocalise. Scaling down economic activity to a more local level will be less capital-intensive and will work with, rather than against, the real needs of both people and planet. And, encouragingly, there are countless localisation initiatives around the world that are already demonstrating its multiple benefits.
This Pamphlet will begin with a diagnosis of the most fundamental problems we face under the current system; and then move on to outline the response — the systemic solution that is localisation.
Pamphlet produced in conjunction with Local Futures.