Online map charts rise of ‘new economy’

A new interactive online map reveals the breadth of innovative small scale responses to the economic crisis

There are signs of a new, alternative economy building around us, such as the growth of local currencies like the Totnes or Bristol Pound, community skill-sharing projects or time-banking networks, and businesses that are reinvesting their profits in ways that benefit local people. The same is happening in many countries, with progressive groups around the world working to build a more sustainable economy from the ground up.

UK thinktank the New Economics Foundation (nef), along with a group of partners, has created an interactive online map where these initiatives can be shared to provide inspiration to others and give a clearer global picture of how a new economy is unfolding.

The map launched in March 2012 and several hundred projects have been listed so far, such as BNB – an alternative currency in Switzerland, which can be swapped with other local currencies like the Alsace in France and the Baden in Germany. Also included are various credit unions in the US, eco villages and land co-operatives in Ireland and the Kareti barter system in Greece. Each project is colour-coded to represent which section of the economy it fits into and project details are also listed.

The creators of the map, which include Stakeholder Forum for a Sustainable Future, the New Economics Institute in the US as well as the Green Economy Coalition and BioRegional, will present the map to delegates of Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, taking place at the end of June 2012. The Rio+20 conference will see experts from around the world gather to agree a range of measures that will tackle poverty while promoting good jobs, clean energy and a more sustainable and fair use of resources.

“We want to show policy makers what’s happening in the new economy,” says Victoria Johnson, senior researcher at nef. “The map is in its early stages but shows innovative small scale responses to big challenges. There is not one magic bullet to change the economy, but this will show the breadth of initiatives.”

The map is part of a wider project called Global Transition 2012, an international network of organisations and leading thinkers working to achieve an outcome from the Rio+20 conference that “catalyses a global transition to an economy that maximises wellbeing, operates within environmental limits and is capable of coping and adapting to global environmental change.”