Our high streets have life in them yet

When I was a great deal younger, those Widmerpools among us who believed themselves to be sensible forward-looking people, in touch with the real world, used to justify their opinions by explaining that “you can’t stand in the way of progress”.

These days, when we know it didn’t actually turn out to be progress at all – as the abandoned concrete monstrosities around our towns bear witness – they say: “you can’t stand in the way of the market”.

This empty and unproven phrase covers almost anything accepted opinion happens to believe at the time.


Time to save the Sustainable Communities Act

A decade ago, nef published the first of a series of reports called Ghost Town Britain.

They had a huge impact, pointing to the terrifying way in which high streets and neighbourhoods were losing their assets – butchers, pubs, post offices, banks, playing fields and all the rest.


An invitation to join the e-money revolution

Politicians may be incapable of modernizing our dinosaur-banks, but in the world of electronic exchange things are more exciting. In particular, the ubiquity of mobile phones and the internet creates enormous opportunities for ‘dis-intermediation’ – or the removal of banks as the middle-men enabling payment and settlement. More

Is economic growth essential for well-being?

Image courtesy of TaxBrackets.org


The scramble to avoid a Greek default

Crunch time is rapidly approaching for Greece, as its ruling coalition fail to reach agreement on austerity cuts. In return, its private creditors have ‘volunteered’ – with the barest minimum of Troika arm-twisting – to reductions in Greek debt of around 70 per cent. If nothing is signed up to by 20 March, when €14.5bn has to be rolled over, Greece will face little choice but to default.


Life before death

First thing on a Monday morning - surely the best time to contemplate life and death? In the Guardian last week there was an article about an Australian nurse who cared for people in their last 12 weeks of life and what she learnt about their regrets. Whilst I can’t vouch for the scientific validity of the study it is certainly true that we will all die, and that many of us will have a chance to reflect on our lives as we approach death. Did we do the things we would have liked to? More

Clinging to economic growth suffocates the imagination

Originally posted at Comment is free.


Coproduction and the Core Economy: A solution to “Care in Crisis”

One of the many long-running gags in popular US cartoon series The Simpsons is the hopelessly depressing life led by Abe Simpson, unfortunate father of the less than attentive Homer. More

Despite last week’s tragedies, we’re winning the fight on youth imprisonment

Last week was a tragic one in the prison system. The apparent suicide of two teenagers in separate incidents has thrown the spotlight back on the youth prison system. These incidents call into question the ability of young offenders institutions to provide proper care for the children in their care. There were many warning signs. More

Davos 2012: The Great Transformation

The theme of this year's Davos meeting was the 'Great Transformation'. Over the last three years nef has argued a similar line, promoting the need for what we call a Great Transition. 

Our unique strength as an organisation is that we have a very clear analysis of the systemic and international problems advanced economies are currenly facing. We understand how sustainability challenges link with inequality, with increasing instability of economies, and how all of these affect human well-being.


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