Localisation : The most strategic way to tackle our escalating social and ecological crises?
Over the past 30 years, giant banks and corporations have become wealthier and more powerful than ever before. This has happened because governments, in the name of 'economic growth', have supported ever-increased global trade while neglecting local business potential. Through a series of 'free trade' treaties, trade and financial deregulation continues today, weakening and impoverishing governments and whole countries. This is the essence of economic globalisation.
Despite the rhetoric of inevitability that supports it, globalisation is a process of planned change — the consequence of government policies that support the profit-driven agendas of big businesses and banks. These policies include the building up of transport, communications and educational infrastructures tailored to the needs of global corporations; the over-regulation of local and national businesses; and the use of misleading indicators like GDP.
Since globalisation is at the root of so many problems, localisation — a shift away from the global and towards the local — is an obvious part of the solution.
The central principles of localisation
• Localisation is the diversification and decentralisation of economic activity. • Localisation strengthens human-scale business — especially for basic needs such as food, water, and energy, but also in housing, banking and healthcare.
• Localisation relies more on human labour and skill and depends less on energy and technology.
• Localisation requires less transportation, less packaging, and less processing, thereby reducing waste, pollution and fossil fuel use.
• Localisation adapts economic activity to the diversity of ecosystems, restoring cultural and biological diversity.
• Localisation fosters a deeper connection between people and nature.
• Localisation rebuilds social interdependence and cohesion, providing a more secure sense of identity and belonging, which in turn is a prerequisite for peaceful coexistence.
• Localisation challenges conventional notions of international development, instead reclaiming and regenerating diverse knowledge systems, languages, aesthetics and wisdom traditions.
Global to local policy changes:
¥ The renegotiation of international trade treaties, this time putting local needs first. This means the re-regulation of global trade and finance, along with the relaxation of regulations that currently stifle local trade and finance.
¥ A shift in taxes and subsidies that currently favor the large and multinational. Rather than tax labour while subsidising the use of energy and technology, policies need to promote the creation of jobs and livelihoods while minimising the wasteful use of energy and other resources.
¥ A re-direction of public investments in infrastructure. Billions are still being invested in creating and improving trade-based infrastructures — superhighways, shipping terminals, airports — while the needs of local economies are being neglected.
¥ Government control and regulation of the creation of money and debt. Leaving these key elements of modern economies in the hands of unaccountable banks and financial institutions has led to reckless speculation and economic collapse, as well as a widening gap between rich and poor.
***At the grassroots, a powerful localisation movement is emerging worldwide. India itself has a rich history of innovation and activism. Here and elsewhere, the localisation movement is showing that strengthening community and the local economy can undo many of the problems created by the mad rush towards globalisation.
Central to this new thinking has been the local food movement, which is already demonstrating that shortening the distance between farmers and consumers creates a multitude of benefits, including: healthier and fresher food; more income for farmers; more agricultural and biological diversity; and less pollution and fossil fuel use. Perhaps most importantly, small, diversified and locally-adapted farms actually produce more food per acre than large industrial monocultures, while reclaiming the food supply from multinational corporations.
The same logic that underlies the local food movement applies not only to other aspects of primary production (for example, fisheries and forestry), but to other quite different areas of economic life. Amongt the countless initiatives already underway are:
Via Campesina Transition Towns Decentralized renewable energy Local business alliances Local banking Alternative currencies and local bartering Local stock markets 'Gift economies' Ecovillages School gardens Non-school education Eco-building Biodiversity economics 'Counter-development' Anti-Corruption Inner Transformation
We believe that these and many other initiatives like them can gain strength by forging alliances under the localisation banner. Together, we can build a movement that will challenge the might of the mega-corporations and bring the economy back home.
We invite you to join us!