Sustainable SRDs? – Report from a group discussion

“Sustaining the biosphere is not an ecological problem, nor a social problem, nor an economic problem. It is an integrated combination of all three.” (Holling, 1994)

“Sustainable SRDs? – Pros and Cons” was the theme of discussion in parallel working groups. This post reports from one of the group discussions that took place on the first day of our workshop. Instead of giving a complete report of the discussions, I would like to highlight some aspects that were of importance and interest to me. It intends stimulating debates and discussions on the blog by inviting the other participants of the working group to comment and amend the post.

The discussion in our breakout group continued the vivid exchange that took place during the plenaries. In a first step, each of the participants’ of this working group had the task to fill out cards and put them on the board. Already while presenting their cards and while hanging them on the wall, we started to discuss further details. In a second step, we rearranged the cards as to group them thematically. The discussion about sustainable SDRs centered on several topics:

To my view, a very interesting debate occurred about the tension between a possible funding for sustainable development transformations on the one hand and the risk of stimulating economic growth with negative externalities on the other. In a positive reading, one could argue that increasing SDRs would help raising money for the societal transformations towards sustainable development. One could imagine, for example, to issue with this newly create money the Green Climate Fund, which shall receive $100bn annually by 2020. Thereby, the creation of SDRs could help to finance sustainable development projects, to construct global central bank and pave ways for a global central regulation of financial markets.

However, as another participant objected, the raise of money has in the past rather stimulated economic growth instead of sustainable development. So far, economics growth has been closely related to increases in CO2 emissions, resource extraction and material consumption. In short, economics growth has shifted costs to both the ecological and social sphere (see also Kapp 1950).

Since many positive arguments for SDRs were found, one participant raised the very important question to analyze why its implementation did not take place yet. Via historical analysis of processes, institutions and influential people one could learn more about barriers and bridges towards implementing SDRs. Following this reasoning, another question raised concerns the geopolitics of SDRs, which are worth studying.

A call for more transdisciplinarity was clearly put forward as to involve the broader public in the often technical and complex discussions about a sustainable global financial system.

Given my background in ecological economic, I found the questions concerning ecological macroeconomics very interesting. Amongst this topic, not only the question of human development and well-being within planetary boundaries is of interest. How to create mechanisms to recycle the surplus? How to install fiat currencies that limit financial speculation? – These are only two examples of further research paths.

The question of sustainable SDRs remains still open. Some answers and many questions have been raised during the breakout group as documented here in a first step. I hope that the participants of our working group will pick up the topics and add further information from our lively debate.

2 thoughts on “Sustainable SRDs? – Report from a group discussion”

  1. Interesting idea, worth reflecting on … but because I was not at the discussion I do not have enough to form my own opinion …

  2. Dear Sander,

    Thank you very much for your comment and the interest you are expressing in the discussions that we had about sustainable special drawing rights. I would be happy to exchange more about this. Also there will be a working paper coming out of the workshop and I am sure that there will be some notice here on the blog, too.

    Best, Moritz

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