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The Other Economic Summit (TOES) and
the New Economics Foundation - 1983-2000

The first TOES meeting was held in London in parallel with the 1984 annual G7 meeting of the Group of Seven richest industrial countries. It attracted considerable attention at the time. Looking back now, we can see it as a significant forerunner of the growing social justice and new economics movements which now campaign constructively around the world for socially and environmentally benign development, and which some people think of as part of the "anti-globalisation" movement.

Alison and I were involved in TOES from before the start, and then in the New Economics Foundation (NEF) which came out of it two years later. In its first ten years or so, NEF played an absorbing part in our life, and we have continued to be associated with it.

This section of the website provides a personal perspective. The narrative summary that follows lists some of the particular papers, articles and speeches I wrote or gave for TOES and NEF. I will be glad if they become one contribution to an eventual New Economics archive, bringing together a range of personal perspectives from many of the people who have taken part in this pioneering initiative.

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In 1983 we were living in Ironbridge, Shropshire when the following letter arrived at "Spring Cottage", our little house looking south over the Severn Gorge.

October 1983. The text of a letter of 25th October from Jonathon Porritt and the first of its three enclosed Ecology Party papers. It asked if we would help the Ecology Party to set up an Alternative Economic Summit. I am grateful to Jonathon for agreeing to this being published. The hard-copy original is in his handwriting.

Many of the original members of the Steering Committee which came into existence soon afterwards were friends and contacts of ours, with whom we had worked over the previous ten years through Turning Point and in other ways. We were all immensely fortunate in having Paul Ekins as Director of TOES and then NEF. Without him the impact we made over the next three years would not have been achieved.

TOES 1984 was held on 6-10 June in London, close to the G7 meeting in Lancaster House. 170 people from 16 countries took part, "representing the deep concern in our countries about the continuing failure to confront the real economic problems facing the world". A 40-page Report and Summary was published. The Final Communique remains very relevant - unfortunately - to the world's problems today (2004).

For TOES 1984, one of the papers was my What Comes After Full Employment?.

TOES 1985 captured the momentum generated by TOES 1984. It was a three-day event on 16-19 April attended by 500 people from 20 countries in all five continents. Its main themes were Human Needs, Economic Indicators and Targets, and Economic Self-Reliance. These themes were explored with particular reference to Agriculture (Day 1), Trade (Day 2), and Health (Day 3). The 46-page Report and Summary, "New Economics 85", includes details of the event, a draft agenda for economic recovery and world development, and recommendations to the 1985 G7 Economic Summit in Bonn.

The Health Day at TOES 1985 was sponsored by the World Health Organisation as part of work I was then doing on the WHO strategy "Health for All by the Year 2000". My Health, Wealth & the New Economics was published as a separate pamphlet. Of the four Appendices to the original text, the downloadable text includes only Appendix 3 which deals specifically with the subject of health

TOES 1986 in London on 17 April (following a Public Rally the evening before) was a smaller, more specialist event focusing on two specific topics, "International Economics and the Environment" and "The Economics of Local Recovery". The smaller scale reflected that the fact that Paul Ekins and I would be going to Tokyo for the Japan TOES meeting, and that The Living Economy (edited by Paul from the first two years' TOES papers) would be published by Routledge & Kegan Paul and launched later in the year at a special TOES conference to be held in Leeds.

The 40-page published Report and Summary "TOES & TOKYO" describes the TOES London event and our visit to Japan, including the alternative proposal I presented for the island of Ishigaki (near Okinawa) where an environmentally destructive airport on a coral reef was planned.

My TOES 1986 paper on The Economics of Local Recovery will, I hope, be on this website before too long.

The launch of the New Economics Foundation in June and The Living Economy in September 1986 marked a notable record of achievement over the three-year period from October 1983. Paul Ekins reasonably decided it was time for him to move to something less insecure financially. He left TOES/NEF in February 1987 to do research on new economics at Bradford University combined with work for the Right Livelihood Foundation.

By November 1986, in anticipation of Paul's departure, I had become responsible for NEF's strategy and projects. I had in mind a collection of projects under the broad heading "A New Economics by the Year 2000". When we found we couldn't raise funding for it for NEF, that idea turned into Future Wealth: A New Economics for the 21st Century.

The responsibility for strategy and projects meant quite a lot of time on fund raising, and from January 1988 to June 1995 I managed a project account for NEF at my bank. I had excellent support from colleagues in NEF - for example from John Davis who was NEF's chairman at the time and Francis Miller who was in the NEF office. (John, after retiring from Shell, had worked with E.F. Schumacher on appropriate technology for the UK. Francis now works as a small business consultant and has helped me to set up this website.) Others included Perry Walker and David Boyle, who both continue to be active with NEF today.

A project already in the pipeline at that time was a seminar on "Future Cities" at Oxford Polytechnic in April 1987, led by David Cadman. The papers, edited by him and Geoffrey Payne, were published in 1990 by Routledge as The Living City: Towards a Sustainable Future. Mine was on "Alternative Futures for Cities".

Further projects during the following years included:

  • "Alternative Economic Indicators", a book by Victor Anderson published by Routledge in 1991,
  • "Converging Local Initiatives", a conference at Wadham College, Oxford in July 1987,
  • "The New Economics of Information", a seminar in London in October 1987, and
  • "The Economic Teachings of World Faiths", 1987-1994.

Further information on the last three will be found in or accompanying the relevant papers listed below.

1987: Socially Directed Investment. I wrote this paper for the "Converging Local Initiatives" conference at Wadham College, Oxford in July - see next item.

1988 : In Converging on Local Self-Reliance I reported in "New Economics", Issue four/Winter 1988, on a very productive NEF working conference at Wadham College, Oxford in July 1987. Sixty invited participants discussed how to link local economic revival with community initiatives in the health and social sphere, and how to link both with a new approach to social investment and local financial initiatives. This conference prepared the ground for important NEF work in later years.

1989: The New Economics of Information, edited by David Boyle, with cartoons by Rob Cowan and published by the New Economics Foundation, was the report of a NEF seminar held in October 1987. It included a paper by Tom Stonier, then a professor at Bradford University, on "Information Revolution: its impact on industrialised countries"; and a paper by Neville Jayaweera, then Director of Studies and Planning at the World Association for Christian Communication, on "The Third World: economic and socio-cultural consequences of communication technology". My paper on The New Economics of Information: A Challenge for New Economics summarised the issues the seminar had raised for the new economics movement.

TOES 1990 was the first TOES held in the USA. President George Bush senior, chairing the G7 meeting and in triumphant mood after the collapse of Communism, declared that the 1990s would be 'the Decade of Democracy'. My report on Where Now, After Texas TOES? appeared in "New Economics".

TOES 1991 . It was time for TOES to come back to London after its first 7-year cycle through the G7 countries. I gave a retrospective/ prospective introductory speech - Seven Years On.

1992: A New Path. For the project on "Economic Teachings of World Faiths" (1987-1994) - see above - we commissioned the help of the International Consultancy on Religion, Education and Culture (ICOREC). The project involved a number of meetings and seminars with representatives of the faiths. Its outcomes included a NEF conference of 300 people on "Faith, Ethics, and a New Economic Order for the 21st Century" in London in December 1989, publication of a classroom book for children, a report on the December 1989 conference, a paper summarising ICOREC's research findings, and a "Real Wealth" resource pack on Faith and Economics.

Our hope of publishing a more authoritative book containing a 'challenge paper' from the New Economics Foundation and contributions from representatives of each Faith, as a resource for an international meeting between faith representatives and world economic leaders, was not realised. My proposed 'challenge paper' was entitled The Economic Teachings of World Faiths: A New Path.

1993 : Global Economic Cooperation and Governance. I sent this submission on behalf of NEF to the Independent International Commission on Global Governance. It was about changes in the Bretton Woods institutions and the UN that we had been discussing. The Commission's 1995 report "Our Global Neighbourhood" contains much that remains very relevant.

1994: Benefits and Taxes: A Radical Strategy. This discussion paper proposes three years of preparation and then a ten-year programme for the introduction of a Citizen's Income (basic income), combined with a shift to taxing land values and energy instead of taxing incomes, profits and value added.

For some years I had known there were good arguments for a basic income (or National Dividend) and for land-value taxation. More recently the case for energy and other environmental taxation had also grown stronger. By 1994 I felt the time had come to explore how a combination of these reforms might be introduced. The money numbers in the paper are out of date after ten years. But, as more people continue to become aware of the practical, ethical and political arguments for these reforms, some of them may find the paper's approach helpful.

By the later 1990s I realised that there was also a strong case for monetary reform, not only on its own practical merits but also because it would reflect the same principle as the Benefits and Taxes reforms - that the value of 'common resources' should be a source of public revenue to be used on behalf of all citizens. That perception underlay the Alternative Mansion House Speech of June 2000 (see immediately below) and the paper for the Pio Manzu Conference in October 2003 on The Role of Money and Finance: Changing a Central Part of the Problem into a Central Part of the Solution.

2000: Financial and Monetary Policies for an Enabling State. This was the first Alternative Mansion House speech. I gave it at an event organised by the New Economics Foundation at the National Portrait Gallery, London on 15 June, to launch publication of Creating New Money: A Monetary Reform for the Information Age.

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The items included here at present are a very small fraction of the TOES/NEF section of our hard-copy Archive, which includes :

  • TOES/NEF correspondence and papers from 1983 onwards,
  • papers about specific TOES Meetings, 1984-1998,
  • papers about specific NEF conferences/seminars/projects which we organised and helped to organise, and
  • an early draft of "The Living Economy"; issues of New Economics magazine/newsletter, etc; and a bundle of papers from my spell as a NEF trustee (1994-1996).

 

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