SDGs and the economy
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Introduction[edit | edit source]
Rethinking the economy through the lens of the Sustainable Development Goals
This article has been started by Ruchir Shah and Katherine Trebeck to outline how the Sustainable Development Goals could be used to change the way we think and configure our economy globally and at home.
These are initial thoughts we are working through with you. Please be bold, dive in and edit it!
What is the economy?[edit | edit source]
Different ways in which the economy is understood, seen and used:
- Means to allocate scarce resources? Food, clothes, earning a living.
- A market(s)? An arena for competition and collaboration
- Businesses and sharp suits - used as a proxy for power (dominance and aggression).
- Creating and exchanging - sharing economy - which happens in many places including in the home
- Positioned as an a priori - a given truth that can't be challenged
- Employment, jobs and identity - "it's all about jobs, stupid", this is who I am.
- Small businesses, family businesses, business community
- The whole thing is split into the economy, the public sector and charities - dividing lines are drawn
- The economy is GDP = Gross Domestic Product and to grow is to be good
Who is the economy configured for?[edit | edit source]
|Currently||Framed within SDGs|
|Key Entities||Businesses and corporations
people with purchasing power
People (all of them)
|Purpose||Economy as a goal in and of itself||Economy as a means towards an end|
|Outcomes||Growth in GDP as the measure of success
Finding another planet before this one goes
Inequality, environmental destruction (climate change and species lost)
Exhaustion and survival
Redistribution and sticking plasters
Technology as saviour
|No-one is left behind
Circular systems and sustainability
Social safety net / foundation
Businesses as a vehicle for a better society
Prevention and pre-distribution (better words?)
Justice (social, economic, environmental)
Technology as enabler
Decisions made top-down
Market value is king
Environment as a 'natural' commodity
Collateral damage e.g. Pollution and externalities
|Co-operative and mutual support
Decisions made collaboratively
Market as a connector
Levelling of power
Economic democracy (define)
Social impact and Economy
Who's responsibility for making the economy work for society?[edit | edit source]
Purpose of [democratic] government[edit | edit source]
- To maintain integrity of the economic system, and soften any transitions
- To police the economic system, make sure businesses and individuals play by the rules and pay their dues
- To identify, anticipate and address emerging gaps in the economic system e.g. skills shortages, regulation of new business models, adapting to changing technologies
- To identify externalities of business e.g. pollution ; traffic jams and assess their impact and regulate them
Purpose of business[edit | edit source]
- To transform natural resources into commodities
- To create jobs. But why would businesses create jobs unless they really have to? It's a cost, taxable!
- To pioneer alternative business models that prioritise social responsibility e.g. mutuals, co-operatives, community interest companies
Purpose of civil society[edit | edit source]
- Civil society - instrumental to securing accountability of those with power in the economic system
- Advocacy in visioning the kind of economy that works for people and environment e.g. green economy
- Building awareness and empowering those marginalised by the economic system
- Piloting and testing change within the economic system
- Seek to design equality into the whole system
How is this responsibility currently organised?[edit | edit source]
The Fraser of Allander Institute listed 16 strategies across the Scottish government and its agencies:
- Economic Strategy
- Digital Strategy
- Energy Strategy
- Circular Economy Strategy
- Climate Change Plan
- Trade and Investment Strategy
- Labour Market Strategy
- Social Enterprise Strategy
- Hydro Nation Strategy
- Strategy Action Plan for Women in Enterprise
- Manufacturing Action Plan
- Youth Employment Strategy
- Innovation Action Plan
- National Islands Plan
- Agenda for Cities
- Arctic Strategy
How can the SDGs reframe our economic strategy?[edit | edit source]
Theory of change[edit | edit source]
Picking and choosing vs holistic.
How does leave "no-one behind" avoid reductionist approach - holistic offer of SDGs?
SDGs work best when looked as a whole - rather than pick and mix smorgasboard
Principles and direction of travel > clear outcome
Systems change is hard to map - too many influencing factors
Operationalising[edit | edit source]
- Picking clusters of SDGs and matching these to skill sets
- But maintaining the links between these
- Finding the way to keep the SDGs holistic is an ongoing challenge
Case study box:[edit | edit source]
Applying holistic approach to Participatory Budgeting as an example.
Applying holistic approach to tackling unemployment - The sustainable development goals (SDGs) present a strong framework through which to frame employability debates. For example quality education (SDG 4) should prepare young people for work, decent work (SDG 8) should give people a strong voice good working conditions and opportunities of progression. Work should also enable people to live free from poverty (SDG 1) and promote good health and wellbeing (SDG 3). Thinking of employability in terms of the rights of individuals in this way, in addition to promoting economic growth (SDG 8), creates a positive framework though which to frame the idea of inclusive growth – and, indeed, an inclusive labour market. (Ref: Ruth Boyle, SCVO)
Questions[edit | edit source]
- What are the implications for funding models?
- What are the implications for Public Sector Procurement if they have to consider SDGs rather than cost and quality?
- Can the public pound have much more impact and social good if it enables SDGs?