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15 August 2020
Transitioning from the Covid-19 crisis towards a sustainable future
The covid-19 crisis is the most serious in what has become an increased danger of global pandemics, which seem set to continue – at least unless radical measures are taken to reduce these risks. The covid-19 crisis caused significant economic disruptions globally, only a decade or so after the 2007-2008 international financial crisis and subsequent global recession of 2009 – itself the first since the 1930s. Alongside this has been growing what now appear likely to be unsustainable – or at least highly damaging and disruptive – inequalities in income, wealth, and geographical regions. And the climate emergency threatens still greater carnage. Surely these crises are sufficient to create a global consensus that enough is enough, and ‘never again’. That was the reaction to the great depression of the 1930s – which had created destitution, fascism, and world war. That ‘never again’ reaction led to the development of an entire system of global economic governance, aimed at creating the stability within which national governments could commit to delivering economic growth and full employment, along with either a welfare state, or at the very least the provision of health, education and other welfare state services. The need is just as great today. But will the response be sufficient?
In creating the intellectual and political consensus for change during the 1940s, ideas played an important role, including those of John Maynard Keynes who described his goal in writing his 1936 General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money as being to change the way people thought about the economy and economics. This is needed once more. The climate crisis requires a refocus away from ‘economic growth’ for its own sake, towards the quality of life for individuals and societies, with a need for economic activities to be environmentally sustainable.
To contribute towards this urgent need, the International Review of Applied Economics will publish two Special Issues. There is a separate call for papers to the Special Issue on ‘The Political Economy of the Covid-19 Crisis’, which seeks to understand the impact the crisis had on the economy and society, including differential impacts upon different groups of people within and across countries [add link to other ‘Call for Papers’ on covid-19?].
This call is for a Special Issue on ‘Transitioning from the Covid-19 Crisis towards a more Sustainable Future’, looking beyond the crisis towards building a better future. Papers would be particularly welcome that address the following topics:
- The covid-19 crisis brought a halt to many environmentally destructive activities, such as air travel. How might we avoid regressing back to these damaging ways, and instead learn from the alternative ways of working that had to be developed, to segue into more sustainable work practices and social behaviours?
- The threat of environmental catastrophe has been driven by the belief that governments must deliver economic growth, or risk discontent. The covid-19 crisis created an alternative narrative, that “people’s lives must come first”. How could this political and social commitment be retained and built upon, so that the huge loss of life that the climate crisis threatens rules out that old-style unthinking commitment to infinite growth on a finite planet, and instead economic policies focus on outcomes in terms of individual and societal welfare, within which tackling the climate crisis must be paramount?
- Most people in the world live in urban areas. And the lives of those who don’t are often influenced heavily by the form and nature of urbanisation. How might urban development better encourage and promote environmental sustainability and social wellbeing, including crucially physical and mental health?
- How might corporate ownership, governance, regulation and behaviours be altered to ensure that companies focus on purposeful and beneficial outcomes in terms of the provision of useful goods and services, rather than the financial enrichment of their owners – and do so in a way that contributes to environmental and social sustainability?
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The deadline for papers is August 15th. Proposals can be discussed with the editors – Professor Jonathan Michie, [email protected] and Professor Maura Sheehan, [email protected] - or papers can be submitted directly to the IRAE below (please Select "special issue title” when submitting your paper to ScholarOne).
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