In this post Federico Guerrieri introduces SOURCE, an online network coordinated by the New Economics Foundation, that is designed to catalyse collaboration between academics, policy professionals and civil society organisers from across Europe committed to tackling the biggest economic, environmental and social challenges we face today.
From solving the tragedy of the commons, to building a financial system fit for purpose, or shaping the future of work to tackling climate change, it is becoming increasingly clear that the current system is incapable of addressing the interlinked crises of environmental unsustainability, economic instability, and social inequality.
There are a number of emerging approaches that offer insights into how an economy could operate differently, but we urgently need an inspiring public narrative that outlines how an economy that delivers economic wellbeing for all within environmental limits would work – and the intellectual thinking that is necessary to get to this point.
The Source network identifies issues and looks for tipping points where systemic change can be created. By collaborating with campaigners and policy makers, Source aims to support the development of an economy that delivers economic wellbeing for all within environmental limits.
The network brings together in one place a diverse range of inspirational voices from the worlds of academia, civil society, and grassroots organisations. This platform provides an online space for discussion and constructive debate, but it is also a meeting point to forge new working collaborations across Europe. The Source platform also provides members with the opportunity to exchange information about relevant activities, initiatives, and events taking place all over Europe, and to build key relationships with new research partners.
Source’s approach is summarised as follows
- Align – Source has created an online community of academics, policy professionals and civil society organisers committed to systemic change. Although diversity is actively pursued and valued, so is the fact that all those in the network share the view that transforming the economy for planet and people is critical and to be achieved requires an organised systemic approach. In this way we will be more effective at developing proposals and actions that tackle the big, interconnected economic, environmental and social challenges we face today.
- Generate cultural debate – Economic transformation always involves raising big moral questions about how the economy operates and our aim is no different. Every month the network identifies issues and looks for tipping points where systemic change can be created. Discussions are hosted via the network’s online platform giving every member the opportunity to be involved, and to exchange thoughts with leading academics, policy professionals and civil society organisers.
- Take a systemic approach – Focusing on short-term impacts and running issue-based campaigns will always be important but to deliver far-reaching change then on its own it is simply not enough. Following each online debate, a Briefing Paper will synthesize the findings of the online discussion, aiming at outlining the current economic system’s dysfunctionalities. The Briefing Paper informs the formulation of a Base Research Paper, which develops and shares the alternative solutions and supporting evidence. Collectively, this series of research papers will form the building blocks of a new economic narrative that is shaped by all participants.
By collaborating with campaigners, academics, policy makers, and other civil society organisations, Source acts as a catalyst and aims to:
- Demonstrate that an alternative exists: Theories and reasoned argument have an important role to play but critically so does making things real. Source supports the development of pan-European initiatives by collaborating with progressive civil society organisations across Europe;
- Organise: Just because more research is being done, campaigns being run and local initiatives developed does mean necessarily that something bigger is being achieved. Strategy wins and the aim of transformational change demands requires strategy and alignment. by collaborating with campaigners, Source develops toolkits and materials to support civil society groups committed to systemic change;
- Popularise the transformation: If we do not make the systemic approach and the big moral questions relevant to people we will not see the transformation we are aiming for. Source will collaborate with media partners from across Europe to disseminate and promote its proposals;
- Achieve policy impact: Source ultimately aims to influence the policy process at the local, national and European levels by collaborating with policy makers and policy professionals all across Europe.
Federico Guerrieri is European Co-ordinator at the New Economics Foundation