LibLink Jo Swinson: New thinking about economics for a world in polycrisis

Economic optimism is not in plentiful supply at the moment. Former Leader, Jo Swinson, now Director for Partners for a New Economy, has managed to find some, though, in a recent blog post on WINGS, which

is a community of thought leaders and changemakers who are committed to ensuring philanthropy reaches its fullest potential as a catalyst for social progress. We are committed to end inertia, break down silos, challenge conventional wisdom and create an enabling environment for philanthropy to flourish. Our goal is to encourage collaboration and ignite potential — to rally philanthropic actors everywhere to build a more just, equitable and healthy world.

Jo wrote about the transformative impact targeted philanthropy can have in a world in a state of polycrisis:

A world in crisis is the new normal, so it’s no wonder that many people are experiencing burnout from pandemic fallout, geopolitical instability and the soaring cost of living of recent years.

No matter what your funding strategy or thematic focus is, your partners and the work you fund are certainly impacted by the ‘polycrisis’. Scanning the horizon for future trends, a return to how things were seems very unlikely. Just as many funders mobilised and adapted strategies to respond to Covid-19, or found ways to provide uplifts to grantees facing massive inflation, so philanthropy has to look ahead and prepare for a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world. WINGS rightly explores this in its current four-part seminar series ‘Embracing the Unpredictable: How is Philanthropy Navigating Complex Interconnected Crises?’ as part of the Philanthropy Transformation Initiative.

Many foundations are choosing to work differently in the face of polycrisis, including:

Replacing siloed thinking with a systemic view, narrow funding streams with cross-cutting programmes and ‘multisolving’ for several problems at once
Collaborating with other donors to pool funds and learn together, instead of a ‘go it alone’ mentality

Identifying and funding action to tackle the root causes of problems, not just symptoms

As our name suggests, the root cause that Partners for a New Economy focuses on is the economic drivers of – and solutions to – a broad range of interconnected problems, from environmental destruction to poor health outcomes, from grinding poverty to social unrest. Put simply, the 20th-century extractive, short-termist economic system is not fit for 21st-century challenges: namely regenerating planetary health to halt climate change and mass extinction, while nurturing the well-being of all people, whoever they are and wherever they live.

Jo has long been interested in changing the economic system to promote wellbeing and a better society and she concludes that this is possible;

Distressing and exhausting though they are, the flurry of crises provides the context, motivation and imperative for reshaping our economy to become a regenerative force. Rather than drowning in doom, we can be uplifted by the mission. Imagining, and catalysing a world where the economy works in service of life, where finance focuses resources on projects that regenerate ecosystems and value people, and where care and resilience are understood to be as important as competition and efficiency. This mission is ambitious yet absolutely possible, and philanthropy can help make it happen.

You can read the whole article here.

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  • Steve Trevethan 16th May '24 - 8:05am

    Might part of our present problems lie with the currently dominant socio-economic theory/policy of Neoliberalism/Austerity which is designed to disguise its prime purposes of transferring wealth from the not wealthy to the very wealthy and to restrict/eliminate visible forms of objection to this?

    Perhaps everything may be properly placed on a continuum between the symbiotic and the parasitic?

    Might this be applied to socio-economic policies and practices?

    Might Neoliberalism/austerity be a parasitic socio-economic theory with evident parasitic practices and consequences?

    Might our party help matters by assertively promoting and applying symbiotic theory and practices of Keynesianism?

    P. S. Please look at the article and comments on Keynesianism above.

  • Peter Martin 16th May '24 - 8:45am

    “Replacing siloed thinking with a systemic view, narrow funding streams with cross-cutting programmes and ‘multisolving’ for several problems ……!”

    Oh dear!

    We are all guilty of “business babble” from time to time but maybe not to this extent!

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