Mapping the global economic system: on a journey towards a more climate-positive and inclusive economy

Katy Hartley

By Katy Hartley

Developing a five-year strategy and theory of change for a new foundation setting out to address the dual crises of climate breakdown and deepening inequality was (and still is) an intimidating task. As we entered the first of several lockdowns in early 2020, we realised we needed to hear from a range of voices to explore the issues playing out at a deeper level in the economy, and dig into the root causes of these huge global challenges.

As we progressed our (Zoom-based) journey to write our strategic plan, we consulted nearly 300 senior leaders, changemakers and experts across the globe to gather their insights. Then, guided by the expertise of Nexial, who co-creates platforms for system change, we began mapping our discoveries onto a dynamic map of the global economic system.

Having an accessible online system map supports us within Laudes Foundation in discussing assumptions and ideas, and helps us create a shared understanding of the challenges and interconnections in the global economy. But we knew this information would also benefit a broader community, especially if we could map who is doing what, and the programmes and initiatives currently being supported and funded within the system. So towards the end of last year, we invited partners and other funders to share their objectives, where their focus lies within the current economic system, and the activities they employ to accomplish their goals.

Introducing the Laudes Foundation Economic System Map

A few months later, and the launch version of the Laudes Foundation Economic System Map is now live, and includes the mapping of more than 80 organisations who share our goals of mitigating climate breakdown and reducing inequality. It will of course remain a work-in-progress as the world evolves, and we will regularly update it.

“A map tells you where you've been, where you are, and where you're going -- in a sense it's three tenses in one,” - Peter Greenaway.

How can you use this map?

While we’ve used the map to help us understand the issues that we hope to reshape and design our programmes (particularly the broken incentives and ideas within finance and the fashion and built environment industries, and the role of policymakers and civil society actors in rebalancing power), as a public map it is available to everyone who is interested to understand the complexity of the global economic system.

It allows you to recognise the ecosystem of existing work happening, giving you the ability to explore the system, and identify knowledge gaps, intervention points and potential collaborators.

The map is also published under a creative commons licence, which allows you to publish, edit, re-use and remix the content for your own purposes, and we’d love to see more of you do this!

How you can help

We’re also eager to build on the number of participants to create a more comprehensive view of organisations and funders who are like-minded, mission-drive organisations. And that’s where you come in. By participating in a five-minute survey, you too can map your organisation within this representation of the global economic system.    

A walk through the system map

Of course, we recognise economic system maps can be complex to navigate, so you can take a quick tour of the map here, which gives practical guidance for first-time users of the tool. You can also hit this link to listen to the accompanying soundtrack that walks you through an introduction to the economic system, and this link introduces the 10 structural issues we identified during the building of the map, which act as an entry point to further exploration and analysis.

Our hope is that the Laudes Foundation Economic System Map will contribute to developing a narrative and building a coalition for change with others, and we’d welcome your comments and questions as we continue to revise and refine it. Thank you in advance for both your participation and insights!


About the author

By Katy Hartley

Katy Hartley joined Laudes Foundation as the Director of Strategy and brings with her 20 years of experience across philanthropy, partnership building, international affairs, and stakeholder management. Over the past year, Katy has co-created our five-year strategy as Laudes Foundation with numerous stakeholders, drawing from her background working on complex social issues in both multinationals and philanthropy.

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