Economics Working Group

The Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature recognises the fundamental role that the dominant global economic system currently plays in supporting the destruction of the natural world. To assist our members and networks in their advocacy work for the rights of nature, we have created an Economics Working Group, who will work to provide information about the dominant economic system and how to create alternative economic systems that support the Earth community and Rights of Nature.


Earth’s diversity of life is being destroyed and the biogeochemical systems that support it are being destabilized by the current economic system. This system is typically called neo-classical economics. While other factors are also contributing to these crises such as conceptions of property rights, population growth, failed governance and financial systems, the rise of the growth focussed economic system ties these unfortunate pieces together.   If the present plan to digest the biosphere continues life on Earth as we know it will cease to exist.   Western system of laws, local state national and international have been used to codify and legalize the ownership, domination and destruction of Earth and its natural systems.


History of where we got to where we are: Two works offer excellent historical overviews of how we got to where we are in terms of the primacy of the growth objective: Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation and Robert Lekachman, The Age of Keynes. Peter Brown’s co-authored book Right Relationship offers an overview of the shortcomings of the current framework and uses an ethical framework grounded in Aldo Leopold’s work. There are many other books which are also strongly critical of the current model; but which have, so far, done little or nothing to move the main directions of economic thinking and policy.

Information about economic systems. The two movements that attempt to re-envision the entire economic system that are most in step with a Rights of Nature (RON) agenda are ecological economics and degrowth economics.

Ecological Economics: A summary of the differences between ecological economics and neo-classical economics is contained in an article by Jon Erickson and John Gowdy entitled “The approach of ecological economics”, which can be found at this weblink –
A classic work in this field is Herman Daly’s book Beyond Growth.

Degrowth Economics: This is part of a general movement to move away from a high pressured high consumption society to one with work and resource sharing, less ecological impact, more leisure and arts. There are a number of good websites on this subject. Two outstanding texts which are situated somewhat between Ecological Economics and degrowth economics are Peter Victor’s Managing without Growth; and Tim Jackson’s Prosperity without Growth. Both of these are long books; but short summaries and discussions can be found on their websites.

Rethinking Finance: The two leaders in the arena of critiquing finance are John Fullerton who is the President and Founder of the Capital Institute; and Josh Farley at the Gund Institute at the University of Vermont. Fullerton’s “Limits to Investment” is a seminal work.

Be wary: There are some false friends out there. “Environmental Economics” is an attempt to extend the neo-classical model to environmental problems; but remains entangled in the assumptions of the suicidal mainstream model. Also be sceptical about movements under the name Green Economy, and/or the True Cost Economy they are often very modest steps in the right direction at best. The term Green Economy has been coopted in recent years to refer to the idea of “protecting” nature by putting a “price tag” on the services nature provides, such as carbon sequestration, etc.

Here’s a starting list of information and case studies about grass roots/community based ‘alternative economic’ models, to inform and inspire Rights of Nature activists and advocates

Information and case studies about indigenous economic systems:

  • Sacred Ecology, Fikret Berkes
  • The Original Affluent Society by Marshall Sahlins
  • Winnemen Wintu biosphere tracking
  • More references will be available soon


The Global Alliance’s Economics Working Group is currently exploring opportunities to host and co-host events that support advocacy for alternative economic systems.


For more information, or to suggest resources and events that the Working Group should include on this website and engage with, please contact:

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