TED全球问题:Kate Raworth: A healthy economy should be designed to thrive, not grow

Have you ever watcheda baby learning to crawl?Because as anyparent knows, it's gripping.First, they wriggle about on the floor,usually backwards,but then they drag themselves forwards,and then they pull themselves up to stand,and we all clap.And that simple motionof forwards and upwards,it's the most basic directionof progress we humans recognize.

We tell it in our storyof evolution as well,from our lolloping ancestorsto Homo erectus, finally upright,to Homo sapiens, depicted, always a man,always mid-stride.

So no wonder we so readily believethat economic progresswill take this very same shape,this ever-rising line of growth.It's time to think again,to reimagine the shape of progress,because today, we have economiesthat need to grow,whether or not they make us thrive,and what we need,especially in the richest countries,are economies that make us thrivewhether or not they grow.Yes, it's a little flippant wordhiding a profound shift in mindset,but I believe this is the shiftwe need to makeif we, humanity, are going to thrivehere together this century.

So where did this obsessionwith growth come from?Well, GDP, gross domestic product,it's just the total costof goods and servicessold in an economy in a year.It was invented in the 1930s,but it very soon becamethe overriding goal of policymaking,so much so that even today,in the richest of countries,governments think that the solutionto their economic problemslies in more growth.

Just how that happenedis best told throughthe 1960 classic by W.W. Rostow.I love it so much,I have a first-edition copy."The Stages of Economic Growth:A Non-Communist Manifesto."


You can just smell the politics, huh?

And Rostow tells us that all economiesneed to pass throughfive stages of growth:first, traditional society,where a nation's output is limitedby its technology,its institutions and mindset;but then the preconditions for takeoff,where we get the beginningsof a banking industry,the mechanization of workand the belief that growth is necessaryfor something beyond itself,like national dignityor a better life for the children;then takeoff, where compound interestis built into the economy's institutionsand growth becomes the normal condition;fourth is the drive to maturitywhere you can have any industry you want,no matter your natural resource base;and the fifth and final stage,the age of high-mass consumptionwhere people can buyall the consumer goods they want,like bicycles and sewing machines —this was 1960, remember.

Well, you can hear the implicitairplane metaphor in this story,but this plane is like no other,because it can never be allowed to land.Rostow left us flyinginto the sunset of mass consumerism,and he knew it.As he wrote,"And then the question beyond,where history offers us only fragments.What to do when the increasein real income itself loses its charm?"He asked that question,but he never answered it, and here's why.The year was 1960,he was an advisor to the presidentialcandidate John F. Kennedy,who was running for electionon the promise of five-percent growth,so Rostow's job wasto keep that plane flying,not to ask if, how, or whenit could ever be allowed to land.

So here we are, flying into the sunsetof mass consumerismover half a century on,with economies that have cometo expect, demand and depend uponunending growth,because we're financially,politically and socially addicted to it.We're financially addicted to growth,because today's financial systemis designed to pursuethe highest rate of monetary return,putting publicly traded companiesunder constant pressureto deliver growing sales,growing market share and growing profits,and because banks create moneyas debt bearing interest,which must be repaid with more.We're politically addicted to growthbecause politicianswant to raise tax revenuewithout raising taxesand a growing GDPseems a sure way to do that.And no politician wants to losetheir place in the G-20 family photo.


But if their economy stops growingwhile the rest keep going,well, they'll be booted outby the next emerging powerhouse.And we are socially addicted to growth,because thanks to a centuryof consumer propaganda,which fascinatinglywas created by Edward Bernays,the nephew of Sigmund Freud,who realized thathis uncle's psychotherapycould be turned intovery lucrative retail therapyif we could be convincedto believe that we transform ourselvesevery time we buy something more.

None of these addictionsare insurmountable,but they all deserve far more attentionthan they currently get,because look where this journeyhas been taking us.Global GDP is 10 times biggerthan it was in 1950and that increase has broughtprosperity to billions of people,but the global economyhas also become incredibly divisive,with the vast share of returns to wealthnow accruing to a fractionof the global one percent.And the economy has becomeincredibly degenerative,rapidly destabilizingthis delicately balanced planeton which all of our lives depend.Our politicians know it, and so they offernew destinations for growth.You can have green growth,inclusive growth,smart, resilient, balanced growth.Choose any future you wantso long as you choose growth.

I think it's time to choosea higher ambition, a far bigger one,because humanity's21st century challenge is clear:to meet the needs of all peoplewithin the means of thisextraordinary, unique, living planetso that we and the restof nature can thrive.

Progress on this goal isn't goingto be measured with the metric of money.We need a dashboard of indicators.And when I sat down to try and drawa picture of what that might look like,strange though this is going to sound,it came out looking like a doughnut.I know, I'm sorry,but let me introduce youto the one doughnutthat might actually turn outto be good for us.So imagine humanity's resource useradiating out from the middle.That hole in the middle is a placewhere people are falling shorton life's essentials.They don't have the food, health care,education, political voice, housingthat every person needsfor a life of dignity and opportunity.We want to get everybody out of the hole,over the social foundationand into that green doughnut itself.But, and it's a big but,we cannot let our collective resource useovershoot that outer circle,the ecological ceiling,because there we put so much pressureon this extraordinary planetthat we begin to kick it out of kilter.We cause climate breakdown,we acidify the oceans,a hole in the ozone layer,pushing ourselvesbeyond the planetary boundariesof the life-supporting systemsthat have for the last 11,000 yearsmade earth such a benevolenthome to humanity.

So this double-sided challengeto meet the needs of allwithin the means of the planet,it invites a new shape of progress,no longer this ever-rising line of growth,but a sweet spot for humanity,thriving in dynamic balancebetween the foundation and the ceiling.And I was really struckonce I'd drawn this pictureto realize that the symbol of well-beingin many ancient culturesreflects this very same senseof dynamic balance,from the Maori Takarangito the Taoist Yin Yang,the Buddhist endless knot,the Celtic double spiral.

So can we find this dynamic balancein the 21st century?Well, that's a key question,because as these red wedges show,right now we are far from balanced,falling short and overshootingat the same time.Look in that hole, you can see thatmillions or billions of people worldwidestill fall shorton their most basic of needs.And yet, we've already overshot at leastfour of these planetary boundaries,risking irreversible impactof climate breakdownand ecosystem collapse.This is the state of humanityand our planetary home.We, the people of the early 21st century,this is our selfie.

No economist from last centurysaw this picture,so why would we imaginethat their theorieswould be up for taking on its challenges?We need ideas of our own,because we are the firstgeneration to see thisand probably the last with a real chanceof turning this story around.You see, 20th century economics assured usthat if growth creates inequality,don't try to redistribute,because more growthwill even things up again.If growth creates pollution,don't try to regulate, because more growthwill clean things up again.

Except, it turns out, it doesn't,and it won't.We need to create economies that tacklethis shortfall and overshoot together,by design.We need economies that are regenerativeand distributive by design.You see, we've inheriteddegenerative industries.We take earth's materials,make them into stuff we want,use it for a while, often only once,and then throw it away,and that is pushing usover planetary boundaries,so we need to bend those arrows around,create economies that work with and withinthe cycles of the living world,so that resources are never used upbut used again and again,economies that run on sunlight,where waste from one processis food for the next.

And this kind of regenerative designis popping up everywhere.Over a hundred cities worldwide,from Quito to Oslo,from Harare to Hobart,already generate more than 70 percentof their electricityfrom sun, wind and waves.Cities like London, Glasgow, Amsterdamare pioneering circular city design,finding ways to turn the wastefrom one urban processinto food for the next.And from Tigray, Ethiopiato Queensland, Australia,farmers and foresters are regeneratingonce-barren landscapesso that it teems with life again.

But as well as beingregenerative by design,our economies must bedistributive by design,and we've got uNPRecedentedopportunities for making that happen,because 20th-centurycentralized technologies,institutions,concentrated wealth,knowledge and power in few hands.This century, we can designour technologies and institutionsto distribute wealth, knowledgeand empowerment to many.Instead of fossil fuel energyand large-scale manufacturing,we've got renewable energy networks,digital platforms and 3D printing.200 years of corporate controlof intellectual property is being upendedby the bottom-up, open-source,peer-to-peer knowledge commons.And corporations that still pursuemaximum rate of returnfor their shareholders,well they suddenly look rather out of datenext to social enterprisesthat are designed to generatemultiple forms of value and share itwith those throughout their networks.If we can harness today's technologies,from AI to blockchainto the Internet of Thingsto material science,if we can harness thesein service of distributive design,we can ensure that health care, education,finance, energy, political voicereaches and empowers those peoplewho need it most.You see, regenerativeand distributive designcreate extraordinary opportunitiesfor the 21st-century economy.

So where does this leaveRostow's airplane ride?Well, for some it still carriesthe hope of endless green growth,the idea that thanks to dematerialization,exponential GDP growth can go on foreverwhile resource use keeps falling.But look at the data.This is a flight of fancy.Yes, we need to dematerializeour economies,but this dependency on unending growthcannot be decoupled from resource useon anything like the scale requiredto bring us safely backwithin planetary boundaries.

I know this way of thinkingabout growth is unfamiliar,because growth is good, no?We want our children to grow,our gardens to grow.Yes, look to nature and growthis a wonderful, healthy source of life.It's a phase, but many economieslike Ethiopia and Nepal todaymay be in that phase.Their economies are growingat seven percent a year.But look again to nature,because from your children's feetto the Amazon forest,nothing in nature grows forever.Things grow, and they grow upand they mature,and it's only by doing sothat they can thrive for a very long time.We already know this.If I told you my friend went to the doctorwho told her she had a growththat feels very different,because we intuitively understandthat when something tries to grow foreverwithin a healthy, living, thriving system,it's a threat to the health of the whole.So why would we imagine that our economieswould be the one systemthat could buck this trendand succeed by growing forever?We urgently need financial,political and social innovationsthat enable us to overcomethis structural dependency on growth,so that we can insteadfocus on thriving and balancewithin the social and the ecologicalboundaries of the doughnut.

And if the mere idea of boundariesmakes you feel, well, bounded,think again.Because the world's most ingenious peopleturn boundaries intothe source of their creativity.From Mozart on his five-octave pianoJimi Hendrix on his six-string guitar,Serena Williams on a tennis court,it's boundariesthat unleash our potential.And the doughnut's boundaries unleashthe potential for humanity to thrivewith boundless creativity,participation, belonging and meaning.

It's going to take all the ingenuitythat we have got to get there,so bring it on.

Thank you.


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