Is there an alternative to the growth imperative?

At 18:45 GMT (19:45 CET / 20:45 EET) on Wednesday the 16th March 2016, Free Word and Rethinking Economics held a debate on the ecological impact of economic exploitation and look at the opportunities for an alternative approach.

This debate has now finished, but video highlights can be found on this page and an unedited, full-length recording of the live stream can also be accessed here.

Topic / Speakers / Location / Related linksPoem

About the debate:

Our climate is changing, caused by what many believe to be the relentless economic exploitation of the planet’s resources. What are the social, human and political consequences of these changes and how can we in Europe act together to help forge an alternative approach?

On Wednesday the 16th March, Free Word and Rethinking Economics posed these questions to a cast of innovative environmental and economic figures, who dedicate their lives to paving the way for change and new alternatives. However, in contrast to many of the debates which focus on the matter of socio-economic alternatives, this debate continued the approach established by Free Word in other Unravelling Europe events and look for inspiration in cultural and artistic perspectives.

With a focus on the central yet oft overlooked cultural dimensions of the problems we face, this debate looked at issues such as migration, sustainability and social justice, analysing the impact our current socio-economic models are having while proposing ways to transition to economies which are good for both our well-being and that of the planet.

While video highlights are available at the top of this page, an unedited, full-length recording of the live stream can also be accessed here.

To read a Yuan Yang poem commissioned for this event by Free Word, click here.



Victoria Waldersee is a co-project manager of Rethinking Economics‘ Economy project. 


Nick Hunt is a writer, journalist and storyteller, who works for The Dark Mountain Project.

Johanna Nyman is the president of the European Youth Forum

Kate Raworth is a socio-ecologically focused economist, who currently works as a senior visiting research associate at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute.

Stewart Wallis is the former executive director of the New Economics Foundation [NEF], where he worked from 2003-2016.

Antosh Wojcik is a resident artist at the Roundhouse and a member of the Kid Glove and Burn After Reading collectives.

Yuan Yang is a poet, translator, economist, journalist and campaigner, who currently writes for the Financial Times as their Beijing economics correspondent. Yuan has also written a poem for this event, which you can view here.

Debate series and support:

This debate took place with the kind support of Fritt Ord and the European Union’s Europe for Citizens Programme and as part of an international series of debates on the same theme, with discussions in cities around Europe, including Barcelona, Bratislava, Brussels, London, Sofia and Warsaw.

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Partners and programmes:

Rethinking Economics:

Rethinking Economics is an international network of students, thinkers and citizens who come together to demystify, diversify and invigorate economics.

Unravelling Europe:

This event was one of many in Free Word‘s new Unravelling Europe programme. This programme focuses on the increasing fragmentation of Europe against a backdrop of anxiety and fear and looks at how this dynamic threatens the conditions and values that underpin our open, democratic societies. Putting artists at the heart of the discussion, Unravelling Europe sets out to ask: why is this so, what are the consequences and how might we act to counter them?

To find out more about Unravelling Europe and the series of events which it comprises, visit Free Word at:




( Click on the following links for: articles / videos / poetry )


Doughnut Economics By Kate Raworth

Migration and climate change top risks facing global economy By Yuan Yang

Moral economy: a different way of thinking about the future By Andrew Sayer

Ten ideas to transform our economy By David Powell

Sedláček: We are moving towards a global form of organisation By Veronika Pehe

Extract from This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein

The Bioeconomy By the Transnational Institute

Diverse green economy articles from the Transnational Institute 

Youth leader: ‘We need to stop internships replacing real jobs’ By Ecaterina Casinge


Our Big Bang, the need for a great transition: Stewart Wallis at TEDxExeter

Why it’s time for Doughnut Economics: Kate Raworth at TEDxAthens

Capitalism vs. the climate: Naomi Klein on the need for a new economic model to address the ecological crisis 


Growth By Yuan Yang