What should one do when 1000 Green Party members from all over Europe hold their biggest get together in 5 years? You get a pioneering (Doughnut) Economy Minister to show what is possible when Greens get in government, take the economy ministry and implement a Doughnut Economy. This system changer from the European Environmental Bureau was invited to join and support Minister Barbara Trachte on her mission. A very short debrief.
Speaking to a room full of policy people, saying that words are weapons was of course kicking an open door. Yet I began my talk like that, in order to then ask questions such as: do "we green-minded politician still call "green growth" a good thing? (hint: 2/3th of growth goes to the 1% richest while the vast majority pays an ever large price for "green growth"). And while we probably agree that a transition needs to be ‘just’ – does that include justice for the ever more people sacrificed in an ever wilder resource grab to meet the material demands of the Tesla's driving affluent class? Could it be that we need to degrow some specific economic activities in specific regions of the world or absolute quantities of raw material extraction in order to make a wellbeing economy within reach for all of us? It's not impossible to do so. Austria just promised to reduce their material footprint with 80% by 2050. And can the parameters in the Doughnut Economy guide us to where we need to degrow as well as what needs to grow in order to meet our social needs? After all, our problems go way beyond fossil fuels. We should have been past peak oil, peak meat, peak pesticides and more by now, as the overshooting indicators of the doughnut economy tell us loud and clear. What would our party program look like if it would be entirely based on these parameters?
Minister Barbara Trachte had some answers to that. Not just with words, but with actions. She explained to the engaged audience what the Brussels region she governs had done already to implement the Doughnut Economy at that particular geographic scale. Since every region has its unique issues and since participation and ownership are key, a local process with a 100 citizens from the area had crystalized to an incomplete but workable Brussels based Doughnut with a whole range of indicators, targets and ideas on how to meet them. One goal of Minister Trachte is to reform all subsidies for all enterprises step by step, by 2030, until every single subsidy contributes to bringing the economy within the sweet spot of the Doughnut, for every parameter agreed with the citizen panel.
The feedback we received was very positive and certainly encouraging to continue on this path. Let's keep the pressure up on green (and other) parties to embrace the Doughnut Economy as the overarching guide to 21st-century-proof-policymaking.
Facebook Minister Trachte and Nick Meynen (1) and (2)
Twitter Trachte and European Greens
Short video clip of the Doughnut stunt shown in Copenhagen
Powerpoint about the Brussels Doughnut Economy process and parameters downloadable here.
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