Quakers, a stable economy, and the future of humanity

Britain‘s Quakers are hosting a major conference this week to explore radical approaches to economics in the light of both the recession and the dangers posed by climate change. Taking place on Saturday 26th September, the event will focus on the idea of a “zero-growth economy”.

The Quakers say that they want to look at “the connections between the global economy, people and the environment”. They point out that while the global economy is almost five times the size it was fifty years ago, this growth has taken place at a time of unprecedented environmental destruction.

“This conference comes at a crucial time,” said Helen Drewery of Quaker Peace and Social Witness, “as world leaders prepare for Copenhagen and we all question whether ‘business as usual’ is a realistic option in the aftermath of the recent economic turmoil”.

The conference will hear from the economist Richard Douthwaite, author of The Growth Illusion. Other speakers will include the activist and author Alastair McIntosh, Duncan Green of Oxfam and Miriam Kennett of the Green Economics Institute.

Drewery suggested that “We need to find creative ways to nurture the growth of human wellbeing without outgrowing the planet’s capacity to support us”. She added that it “may well be humanity’s biggest challenge.”

The conference will take place at Friends House, opposite London‘s Euston Station. It is organised in partnership with the Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre and is open to people of all faiths and none at a cost of £20 per person.

Details can be found at http://www.quaker.org.uk/conferences-and-events.

Some environmentalists have called for the establishment of a zero-growth economy as the only possible route to real sustainability. Some economists have pointed out that eras of high government spending on environmental projects have coincided exclusively with times of high economic growth and a financial “feel-good” mood.

We are now on the verge of a world-wide recession, with banks and businesses failing and governments casting around in vain for a solution. Whatever the outcome, we will all still be feeling the ripples, if not the tidal waves, by the autumn.

The conference aims to examine the implications of a zero growth economy on both the environment and on people, and to consider the right relationships between protecting the environment and alleviating poverty.

Confirmed speakers are:-

  • Alastair McIntosh – social activist and author of “Soil and Soul” and “Hell and High Water”
  • Duncan Green – Oxfam
  • Miriam Kennett – Green Economics Institute
  • Richard Douthwaite – economist and author of “the Growth Illusion”

The one-day conference will be chaired by Jocelyn Bell Burnell.

Cost of the one-day conference: £20 per person – open to all – Friends and others

The seminar is open only to area meeting representatives – please contact your area meeting clerk for details.

In the time between the conference and seminar, we hope that meetings will consider the issues raised so that the area meeting representative can bring these considerations to the seminar. The seminar will provide an opportunity to gather these reflections and focus them forward by considering practical action and developing common strategies.

For further information including bookings please contact:

Anne Wilkinson, QPSW, Friends House, London, NW1 2BJ
Telephone: 020 7663 1062
Email: annew@quaker.org.uk

A Zero Growth Economy? What would it mean for us all?

Saturday 26th September 2009, 10.00am – 5pm, Friends House, London (One-day conference)

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