Because the system is broken
The “Beyond GDP” movement is a powerful advocate for a new economy, driven by people and organisations who care passionately about the social and environmental consequences of the current, broken system. GDP lies at the core of that system, prioritising growth in money transactions instead of growing the real wealth of economic and social wellbeing that enables people to thrive in a sustainable world.
GDP is obstructing progress
Many new models of economic progress have been put forward, each with different emphases but all focused on improving outcomes for people and planet. Even the U.N., the E.U. and the OECD have got involved, but despite all these efforts GDP appears unmovable.
GDP is entrenched
GDP is still enshrined in the UN’s 2015 sustainable development goals, is integral to the E.U. treaties and is a key success indicator for bodies such as the World Trade Organisation. Controversial new trade agreements such as TTIP, TPP and TISA are justified almost entirely by the increase in GDP that they are supposed to bring.
If we want an economy based on wellbeing, that rejects aggressive trade agreements, tackles climate change, shuts down polluting industries, reduces the power of financial markets and has no need for punitive austerity policies, we need to STOP GDP as a measure of human progress.
What are the objectives?
Get GDP out of the way
We need to shift GDP off the highway to progress, and clear the way for new, wellbeing-based economic models to move forward. That means making GDP a political issue – to show those in power that fine words about wellbeing mean nothing while GDP is blocking the way.
Create space for alternative measures
We need a range of different measures, reflecting local, regional and international circumstances and needs. These can take root and flourish when GDP is out the way. There’s no single answer, but here are some things that new measures should do:
- Include the value of the un-paid work that people do for themselves and others;
- Deduct the costs of resource depletion (mining, fossil-fuel extraction, forest destruction) and asset inflation (e.g. unaffordable land and housing);
- Distinguish between the creation of new value (making and doing things that enhance wellbeing) and activity that merely circulates existing money-value (e.g. financial trading).
What’s the plan?
Catalyse a movement
Across the world there are thousands (maybe tens of thousands) of civil society organisations – think tanks, pressure groups, trades unions, environmental organisations, campaigning platforms and single-issue campaigns – working towards outcomes that the GDP measure is obstructing.
Make common cause
Stop-GDP seeks to catalyse a global network by inviting these groups to make the Stop-GDP objectives part of their campaigning discourse. Replacing GDP is not an end in itself, so we are not asking organisations to take it up as a separate issue. Instead, we propose building it into existing campaigning, showing how GDP works to obstruct good outcomes. By highlighting GDP in this way, organisations with very different campaigning objectives can make common cause.
Advance existing campaigns
Every progressive civil society organisation has the potential to benefit, whether they are working on climate change and the environment; fair trade; campaigns against international free trade agreements (TTIP, TISA, TPP, etc); basic (or citizen’s) income; sovereign money; social enterprise; affordable housing; poverty and social justice; international development; tax reform and many others.
How will we do this?
One conversation at a time
Growing the Stop-GDP movement is a gradual, incremental process of engagement, one conversation at a time. The issues may appear remote and technical, but once people start to appreciate that “we get what we measure” – that outcomes are dependent upon the targets that governments and institutions aim for – the relevance of Stop-GDP to a whole range of campaigning objectives quickly becomes clear.
Using tailored materials
The people involved in Stop-GDP are volunteers with limited time and resources. We are not proposing another campaigning organisation, but a flexible, networked movement – an alliance for change. To encourage the conversations that will forge this alliance, we can offer tailored blogposts, research and other materials explaining the relevance of the GDP issue to individual campaigns. The next step will be to convene meetings, where civil society groups come together to share experience and plan more concerted action.
Moving to scale
Further ahead, there are opportunities to take action at a larger scale. In the E.U. there is a formal mechanism called the European Citizens Initiative, which will require the collaboration of many campaigning organisations from across the continent. There is scope for action on the largest international platforms, including the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation and others. We invite all groups from all continents to join in and find creative ways to STOP GDP and help humanity towards a more fulfilling future.
What can I do?
Sign up on the website
People are constantly asked to “sign up” on websites. What does this achieve? Not much, at first, but as numbers grow it helps build capacity for the movement. For most politicians, GDP still does not register as a serious issue. By signing up you are saying that it is an issue for you. With numbers we can shape actions, apply pressure and bring leverage to bear. And with your contact details we can keep you in the picture, sending out occasional emails about the progress we are making.
Talk to people in your organisation
Stop-GDP is reaching out to civil society organisations, seeking to grow an alliance for change. You can help by encouraging your organisation to take the initiative and contact us first! Help us to make the case for Stop-GDP by raising the issue in your own networks. Make use of the resources on the Stop-GDP website.
Be part of the Pressure Sandwich
Political change needs top down and bottom up pressure, like a sandwich. If you’re involved in politics or in touch with your representatives, make it known that GDP is an issue. Explain how, in politics, “we get what we measure”, and why GDP is such a poor measure of the outcomes that people want in their lives. Become fluent in the difference between the wellbeing economy and the money system, and find ways to bring this up in the media, too.
Live beyond GDP in your own life
Life beyond GDP means valuing things for what they are really worth, without reference to money. This includes gifting and exchanging instead of buying and selling; volunteering; keeping things local (avoiding unnecessary packaging and transport); recycling, re-using and mending things; growing your own food; making some of the things that you need; preparing meals from fresh ingredients instead of buying pre-packaged food or take-aways; using local economic networks and currencies (where available).
Share your stories about life beyond GDP
Be creative! Imagine a world in which all value is based on human and environmental wellbeing, and use your artistic and writing skills to share that picture. Be clear about which parts of your life are about creating wellbeing, and which parts are taken over by the money system, and tell your stories on social media and elsewhere. Help us to build resources – images, blogposts, research, video, or wherever your creativity takes you – for the Stop-GDP movement. Keep in touch with us by using the #StopGDP hashtag or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who we are
Stop-GDP is co-founded by:
- Lorenzo Fioramonti, Professor of Political Economy at the University of Pretoria and the Director of the Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation. Lorenzo is author of Gross Domestic Problem: The Politics Behind the World’s Most Powerful Number, and a global thought leader in the development of the Wellbeing Economy and the Beyond-GDP movement.
- Martin Whitlock, a writer and campaigner, the author of Human Politics : Human Value, a detailed critique of the GDP economy and the political, social and economic harms that it causes.
We can be contacted at email@example.com.