A Policy Compass for Ecological Economics in the Digital Age

Michèle Friend

Abstract


A policy compass indicates the direction and degree of success of a policy in both very general qualitative terms and in robust statistical terms. I propose to modify the compass to reflect the underlying suppositions of ecological economics: that society is dependent on the environment, and that economic activity is dependent on society. We can think of this as three concentric circles, the economy being the smallest.

Any formal institution[1] can develop a policy compass to examine the discrepancy between what the institution would like to do (its mandate) and the actual performance and situation it finds itself in, where the latter is determined through an aggregation of statistical data and facts. These are made robust and stable using meta-requirements[2] of convergence. They can be aligned with some of the fundamental conceptual and normative thinking of ecological economics with this new adaptation of the compass.

In this paper, the general policy compass is explained, followed by an adaptation for ecological economics. The policy compass is original, and so is the adaptation.  The compass is inspired by the work of Satish Kumar, Stanislav Schmelev, Anthony Friend, Georgescu-Roegen and Rob Hoffman. In the conclusion, I discuss the accompanying conception of sustainability.


[1] An institution is any of: a convention or habit, a norm or valued social practice and a formal institution. The latter has a formal structure and distinguishes itself from the other two by including explicit rules and a mechanism for re-enforcement or correction. The legal system, universities, banks, city councils, hospitals, libraries and so on are all formal institutions. 

 


Keywords


Policy compass, policy decisions, qualitative accounting, ecological economics, environment, sustainability

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