The Inclusive Growth Commission findings have highlighted the need for social and economic policy to be considered and designed as an interconnected whole, rather than as separate policy arenas.
How can we now connect the commission’s findings and practical implementation strategies to localities across the globe?
It is important when answering the above question to start by acknowledging that context is key. This blog is written in full awareness of the fact that strategies to pursue inclusive growth in any one locality (whether the locality be a rural village, a city-region or an entire nation) cannot be transposed wholesale to another locality and expected to flourish. However the learning that can be drawn from the Inclusive Growth Commission is wide-ranging and the thinking behind the recommendations is without doubt worth debate in global environments, as discussed here by Charlotte Alldritt, the Director of the IGC.
Much of the recent political conversation has been centred around ‘the left behind’ and those ‘just about managing’; who have for decades been marginalised by an economic system that is working for the few not the many. This has (rightly) been covered time and again recently, and we now have a Prime Minister in the UK who has said she wants the economy to work for everyone and a President in the US who has vowed to bring jobs back to America. The processes and structures by which these marginalised communities are to be addressed are currently less clear than the political statements being made by these leaders. I think it’s time we reached out and amplified the global conversation on how inclusive growth is the means by which we can address the economic anxieties of the left behind.
In 2009 the World Bank sought to define inclusive growth as distinct from ‘shared growth’ or ‘broad-based growth’. However eight years later, if you asked the average person on the street in Bristol or Detroit, in Rotherham or Cheyenne in Wyoming if they knew what inclusive growth was, or stands for, I would be happy to wager that you would uncover a low level of public understanding.
We need to get better at talking about inclusive growth to push it further into the public conscience. One way to do this is to highlight the existing positive change that is happening across the globe, and to test whether the learning from these changes can travel. We are currently working on a project to explore citizen engagement and inclusive growth, and our research has highlighted innovative, inclusionary and impactful strategies from around the globe that place real power in the hands of citizens in the pursuit of inclusive growth.
At the RSA we have an incredible global network of fellows, and a strong affiliate structure in the US and Australia and New Zealand. In the US the inclusive growth agenda has been pursued both in rural counties as well as increasingly vigorously in their metro regions. Many of the challenges being tackled echo those we are facing in the UK. I would be keen to see the RSA explore the idea of facilitating connections between citizens in the UK and US from both cities and rural locations, a 21st Century version of twinning if you like, so that we can learn from one another about our successes and failures in pursuing inclusive growth policies and practices.
One thing is for certain on both sides of the Atlantic right now, there is a great deal of uncertainty. In amongst this uncertainty is the space for us to have a more informed and broader conversation about alternatives to our current growth measurements and policymaking models. With disaffection being so keenly expressed at the polls, we have a responsibility to actively seek out the thoughts of the many on what the alternative looks like.
There is great power in facing up to the challenges ahead together, it makes us all the more aware of new opportunities, and allows us to build a broader consensus on the road ahead. It is these conversations that I hope the RSA can help to facilitate, to move us further towards achieving growth that works for the many, and not just the few.