The Bioregional Economy

Economics with Justice Lecture, 19th October 2013

Molly Scott Cato, Professor of Strategy and Sustainability at the University of Roehampton, Economics Spokesperson for the Green Party

Land, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness

The first talk in this year’s programme of Economics with Justice Lectures was given by Molly Scott Cato. The question Molly sought to address was how to plan for the provisioning of resources in a world of changing climate and declining fossil fuel resources. Her suggestion is to replace the globalised economy with more localised economy. She has borrowed the concept of bio-region from the disciplines of earth science and bioscience. This is a region defined not by artificial man-made boundaries but by natural ones and having its own characteristic flora, fauna and environmental conditions. Her idea is that a more natural approach to the global economy is to envisage it as a system of largely self-sufficient local economies.

Molly emphasised that a bioregional approach to economics assumes a different system of values to those that dominate conventional economics. Here the global economy is driven by growth, and the consumption ethic that matches this is one of expansion in range and quantity. Goods are defined as scarce, and access to them is a process based on competition. The bioregional approach challenges every aspect of that value system. It seeks a new ethic of consumption that prioritises locality, accountability and conviviality in the place of expansion and profit; it proposes a shift in the focus of the economy away from profits and towards provisioning; and it assumes a radical reorientation of work from employment towards livelihood.

Molly Scott Cato set out a visionary account of what a bioregional approach to the economy would mean. In the discussion that followed it became clear that this is something that she does not just talk about but also endeavouring to put into practice in the way she lives her life.

You can found our more about Molly’s latest book by visiting her website here.