When people refer to economic growth under the prevailing economy, society's needs or existing resources are not mentioned; they only take into account productive and monetary factors.
But when faced with a situation like the current crisis, we need to try and consolidate new ways of understanding the economy and business that respond to emergency situations, with a medium and long-term strategy for social transformation. We need to broaden our outlook and not limit ourselves to employment policies, and include all those activities that make life possible.
The plural economy is an economic system that encompasses all fields of the conventional economic cycle - production, commercialisation, consumption and financing -but also domestic tasks and care work, community economies, public utilities, self-production and non-monetary exchange, among others.
This new system nurtures a set of economic practices that are extremely valuable for comprehensive sustainability (economic, social and environmental) which until now have either not been given due consideration or have been completely ignored.
The change in socio-economic model promoted by Barcelona City Council aims to progress towards a concept of a plural economy, which involves:
- Democratising the infrastructure of common resources (water, land, energy, knowledge, etc.), which must be managed by society or, where this is not possible, by administrations.
- Subjecting the market to the demands of the common good, and therefore regulating it democratically, through local, regional and national governments and the general public.
- Promoting a demonetised economy based on the principles of reciprocity and self-consumption.
Just as we expect the people living in municipalities to look after the common good and to be involved in the territory's development in order to build cities that are worth living in, we must be able to demand that companies become corporate citizens. In addition to providing products and services for people at a fair price, corporate citizens generate economic and socio-cultural surplus that is then distributed in a participative and equitable way among their members, the company itself and society.
Promoting Social and Solidarity Economy in the city means strengthening the organisations that already work in the territory while fostering social change and reducing inequality. This means that the policies carried out will not merely be economic, but also socio-economic, guided by the following values: cooperation, quality of life, sustainability and equity.
Applying these values should involve a reorientation of the economy in four ways:
- The regeneration of the financial and monetary system so that it serves the productive economy and not shareholders.
- Reorientating the productive economy so that priority is given to covering needs, with less dependence on the criteria of return on investment or economic growth.
- Visibility, accountability and equitable distribution of the reproductive economy, i.e. domestic and care work.
- Restructuring the way we produce and consume towards a model featuring low-consumption of energy and resources and lower waste generation.