There are alternatives, says leading development economist at ecumenical meeting

October 15, 2012

SAO PAULO, Brazil

The assumption that the current financial and economic crisis is unnecessary and that Europe must now learn from some of the emerging and developing countries were among the key points shared by British economist Richard Jolly at a global conference on the principles for a new economic system which took place here last week.

Jolly, who was the director of the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex, UK, for nearly a decade, describes the current global context as “the mess we are in,” pointing to figures and analysis that illustrate his diagnosis about the lack of governance in most of the world’s countries today.

“The cause of so many of our difficulties is that the world’s global economic system has run so far ahead of the world’s global governance system,” Jolly said in a keynote address to the Global Ecumenical Conference on a New International Financial and Economic Architecture.

“There needs to be a ground swell of public opinion, and in that ground swell of public opinion, which I call here ‘be outraged,’ the churches have an important role of voice and mobilization,” the British economist said.

Jolly made his comments while introducing “Be Outraged,” a booklet he published recently with 11 other British economists and social scientists.

Jolly’s extensive experience in international diplomatic organizations such as UNICEF and the United Nations Committee on Development Planning, was an asset at the conference initiated by the World Communion of Reformed Churches in partnership with the World Council of Churches and the Council for World Mission.

Sixty economists, theologians, anti-poverty advocates and social scientists gathered to critically analyze the impact of the global financial system and to propose a fresh vision on which to build a new economic and financial framework. The conference ran from Sept. 29-Oct. 5. 

“Professor Jolly was right to stress that a new international architecture must not be restricted to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank but needs to include the United Nations and its agencies," said Stephen Brown, from the board of the World Association for Christian Communication. "It needs to encompass those global institutions regulating the information and communication technologies that represent the central nervous system for the current financial architecture."

Ethics professor, Puleng Lenka Bula of the University of South Africa, shared Jolly’s belief in the importance of including public opinion in discussions about reforming the economy.

“The participation of women and the women’s voices in an ‘economy of care’ is particularly important because, in the current context, economies are based on competition not cooperation,” says Lenka Bula. “They are based on profit maximization, not the care and the well being of societies and others.”

Jolly stressed the importance of the challenge presented to the participants of the conference. "Building a new architecture means more than institutional reform," he said, "but also creating an alternative neural network that affirms justice and challenges injustice,“ he concluded.

WCRC represents 80 million Christians in 108 countries. Its member churches are active worldwide in initiatives supporting economic, climate and gender justice, mission, and cooperation among Christians of different traditions.

Leave a comment