Collaborating to deliver a new economic system in Europe

Kelly Clark By Kelly Clark

In Europe, there is an increasing number of voices arguing against neoliberalism and decades of economic consensus. The Covid-19 pandemic has required unprecedented public spending, while the climate crisis continues to pose a significant challenge to economic thinking. This has led to more organisations and individuals calling for a transformation of European economic systems, and together we’re now shining a light on these 100+ champions of change and their potential to co-create a movement.  

Laudes Foundation, Partners for a New Economy and Demos Helsinki have carried out a landscape analysis of the organisations currently working in Europe to create this economic paradigm shift. Who and where are they? How are they contributing to this cause? And what are the next steps to foster a thriving movement that will catalyse an economy that serves both people and the planet?  

Turning the tide 

The study combines desk research and interviews with practitioners, drawing upon the work of 128 new economic organisations, examining their different pathways for achieving impact.  

The key findings show:  

  • The organisations are predominantly based in Western Europe. 

  • The organisations each have different theories of change on how transformations happen in society, such as the time-scale for change, the geographical focus for that change and an exploration of the kind of political consensus that is needed.  

  • The study found four ways to frame action: 1. A diplomatic posture towards the mainstream economic system or 2. An antagonistic and challenging approach to the current paradigm 3. Working behind “closed doors” or 4. Working in a public arena with civil society.    

  • The study found that eight transformational levers are utilised to enable or achieve change in our current economic systems. These include coalition-building, idea generation, policy advocacy, affecting public discourse, transformative education, delivering new policy ideas, campaigning and funding.  

Importantly, the study reveals a landscape of organisations characterised by pluralism of focus areas and approaches. While not yet considered a movement, these stakeholders have the potential for creating sustained change through coordinating their actions. The report maps some steps forward for a movement focused on changing economic systems in Europe, while maintaining a pluralism of approaches, theories and actions. 

Mapping and making change 

The study is a valuable resource for funders, think tanks and activists in the space, and will drive forward efforts to bring diverse actors together to act as a movement. 

As Rainer Kattel, Deputy Director, University College London’s Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (UCL IIPP) said: “This landscape analysis provides a useful snapshot of where we are as actors, and a powerful argument for collaboration”.  

For Laudes, the report offers essential insight into key actors and how they are operating, and supports our approach to new economic thinking; that we need to work with diversity of thinking and action in the field rather than trying to build consensus on what the new economic thinking paradigm is.  

This report is also a call to action, to us, our partners and network to work together to build on its recommendations, co-designing a way forward which nurtures and brings together the diversity of new economic thinking in Europe. This includes connecting more with actors in low to middle-income countries for example. 

Our route ahead 

In 2022 we aim to strengthen the organisational capacity of new actors in Europe, build inter-European connections and begin to develop a movement capable of transforming our system so that the economy serves the needs of people and planet. We recognise that for every context the right approach may be different, and we will seek strength and solidarity in diverse approaches. 

Having spent two years laying the foundations of our New Economic Thinking programme, Laudes is excited to move forward with this commitment to support the coordination, convening and collaboration of new economic thinking leaders in Europe, and we’re pleased to share this important foundational milestone in co-creating a movement. 

About the author

By Kelly Clark

Kelly is the Director of Finance Capital Market Transformation at Laudes Foundation. The love she holds for her twins and concern for future generations motivates her to strive for change in the global economy and the financial system that supports it. She brings a strategic, intersectional view to tackling inequality and the climate crisis, and a deep desire to build bridges and unify perspectives.

Finance and Capital Markets