System Change – some ideas and links

System Change

People have lots of different ideas but it’s pretty clear that it’s urgent.

We need a plan to tackle

  • The Climate Emergency
  • Inequality
  • Appalling poverty
  • Extinction

Economists and politicians are still chasing growth, promoting privatisation, neoliberal economics – reliance on market forces. There are criticisms that little else is being taught on Economics degrees?

This has to be challenged. There are lots of alternative ideas around.

Three ideas you’ve probably heard of.

Sustainable Development Goals.  A great achievement for the United Nations to have got countries to agree to these and it’s an inspirational model and work is being done but we are way off track to achieve them.

Here’s a recent article on the Goals


Earth’s Life Support System

The economy is basically the way we consume, and the way to produce and commercialise goods. But the economy is a system within other systems. Obviously, the economy can take place only within human societies. Without healthy and thriving human societies the economy cannot be healthy and thriving. And human societies need a healthy environment to thrive. The planet is still our ultimate nourisher. So, do we know what are the planetary boundaries defining a safe operating space for humanity?

Planetary limits. Not only are we using up the world’s resources too fast but also exceeding limits on air pollution, biodiversity loss and the climate.

In 2009, a team led by Johan Rockström from the Stockholm Resilience Centre defined planetary boundaries.

They wanted to define a “safe operating space for humanity” as a precondition for sustainable development.

The framework is based on scientific evidence that human actions since the Industrial Revolution have become the main driver of global environmental change.

According to the paradigm, “transgressing one or more planetary boundaries may be deleterious or even catastrophic due to the risk of crossing thresholds that will trigger non-linear, abrupt environmental change within continental- to planetary-scale systems.”[1]

The Earth system process boundaries mark the safe zone for the planet to the extent that they are not crossed.

Here are some short videos which explain planetary limits

First a very short one

This is longer and explains it in more detai

This an animation from Switzerland

This a TED talk: Let the environment guide our development | Johan Rockstro


Kate Raworth with Doughnut Economics built on these ideas and incorporated the objectives of the SDGs (which she worked on).

The outer ring of the Doughnut represents the planetary limits; the inner ring represents the “social foundation”, the situation in which everyone on the planet has sufficient food and social security. The aim is to get humanity into the area between the rings, where everyone has enough but not too much – or, as Raworth calls it, “the doughnut’s safe and just space”.


There are lots of videos and a series of animations Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist on Kate’s website. 

This is a short film about her ideas


To know more about Cradle to Cradle (C2C), check the Wikipedia entry , the documentary ‘Food=Waste’, or read their books: ‘Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things’ or ‘The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability’.

Remember the Circular Economy video and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Use this site information about the Economy for the Common Good You

You can also check the website from the UK community or join the facebook page of the Portsmouth local chapter. You can also read this book, watch this TEDx talk or this presentation at the RSA.



To know more about Cradle to Cradle (C2C), check Wikipedia, the documentary ‘Waste=food‘, or read their books: ‘Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things‘ or ‘The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability‘.


Remember the Circular Economy video and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. And this is a podcast about the Circular Economy.


See the video ‘Olympic cyclist vs toaster’ here.


To know more about the relation between the resources and the physical world in general (especially energy) and economics watch this presentation by Jean Marc Jancovici (he has only very few videos in English) or this other by Nate Hagens (he has many more videos in English, and he also has a very, very good series of videos making a short course in the human predicament).


Here is the documentary in Catalan and Spanish with English subtitles from which we showed some excerpt (very much worth the effort!), and here a documentary about the same project in English.


Find the report ‘Decoupling debunked – Evidence and arguments against green growth as a sole strategy for sustainability’ here.


Find a very short introduction to Degrowth here, and one about the Steady state economy here.


And here, here, here and here are some resources about citizens assembly.


And remember, we need to approach the change regarding all the aspects and see how all fits together.

Try this