Working Group 5: A Global Confluence of Alternatives to Development

Ashish Kothari (
Aili Pyhälä, University of Helsinki (

Aims, focus and content of the working group: Across the world, movements of resistance against the dominant, ecologically destructive, and socially inequitable model of ‘development’ are arising. Many are questioning the current development paradigm imposed by capitalist, statist, and patriarchal forces, and searching for radical and/or systemic alternatives. Such alternatives range from initiatives in specific sectors such as sustainable and holistic agriculture, community-led water/energy/food sovereignty, solidarity and sharing economy, alternative measures of wellbeing, worker take-over of production facilities, resource/cultural/knowledge commons, and inter-ethnic peace and harmony, to more holistic or rounded transformations.

It is important to understand these processes of transformation, their multiple dimensions, their internal dynamics (including contradictions), their enabling and driving factors, and other aspects. There is a great deal that such initiatives can learn from each other, if not the specifics of how transformation was brought about then at least the lessons, values, and principles emerging from them. Even more important, there is a need for networking and critical solidarity amongst actors involved in such initiatives, to create a greater critical mass for macro-economic and political change. This working group calls for contributions by the way of actual examples of fundamental, systemic, radical transformation, not succumbing to the superficial, often ‘false’ solutions that are emerging in the form of predominantly market measures, technofixes and so on. Contributions on any initiatives – at regional, national, or local scale – demonstrating radical/transformative/systemic change at the social, psychological, political and/or institutional levels are welcome. Our aim is to create a space for mutual sharing of alternative initiatives along the full range of human endeavour, to learn from each other, strengthen meaningful hope and inspiration, and build collaborations amongst people and movements.

Contributions can be – but do not need to be -from any of the following domains: Food / renewable energy / water /land sovereignty; Autonomy / self-determination/ inter-legality (including of indigenous peoples); Indigenous & community well-being / life plans; self-rule/ radical democracy; Degrowth / decolonization / alter-globalisation; Social / solidarity /gift / cooperative economies; Commons/ Community /complementary currencies; Peace / demilitarization; Worker / production democracy; Feminist / gender / sexuality; Social justice / equity; Climate and environmental justice; Ecosocialist; Radical and socially engaged spirituality; indigenous cosmology; Alternative media and arts / arts for social transformation; Rights of nature; Transition towns / permaculture/ ecovillages.

Key questions to be addressed:

  • How can we best strategize for advocacy and actions towards changing the macro-situation to enable the spread and deepening of alternative initiatives?
  • How can we enable conditions for fundamental, systemic transformation?
  • What do we collectively envision of alternative futures?
  • How can initiatives (and confluences of these) relate to existing global processes, adding to them rather than competing?
  • How can we strengthen our relationships (to each other and to all that we consume) so as to be more conscious, meaningful, respectful, and equitable?

Possibility for joint publication/special issue or other forms of dissemination will be considered depending on paper proposals and suggestions of such received.

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