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The emerging debate on global sharing

17 December 2012

In the last newsletter of 2012, STWR highlights some recent events and discussions on rethinking the global economic order and scaling up sharing in our societies, and stresses the importance of everyone getting involved in the emerging debate around global sharing.

In 2003 STWR was founded as a politically unaffiliated, not-for-profit organisation with the specific aim of mobilising public opinion around the urgent need to share the world’s resources. At that time, very few organisations or campaigners were making a similar call for global sharing as the only way to end poverty, reduce inequality, heal the environment and foster world peace. For many people, especially those in policy circles, it may have seemed as if STWR’s campaigning position was too radical to make an appeal – based as it is on the need for governments to immediately secure basic human needs for all.

But a lot has changed in the world over the past ten years, and as we approach 2013 it’s as if the age-old concept of sharing has suddenly caught the imagination of millions of people in different countries. This is most notable in the burgeoning discussion around collaborative consumption in which ‘sharing’ has become the new buzzword of environmentalists, entrepreneurs, techies and community pioneers who are all experimenting with the different ways we can access and share resources rather than own them. The concept of sharing is also being recollected, re-learned and re-invented in other diverse fields as a means of dealing with the multiple crises of the 21st Century – from the commons movement to the gift economy, mutual aid societies, barter systems, time banks, and many other grassroots economic alternatives and people’s movements.

Our simple message at STWR hasn’t changed in the last decade, and now more than ever there is an urgent need for everyone to raise their voice for greater sharing in our societies. As the global economic system continues to break down while governments respond in entirely the wrong way to the world’s worsening crises, it has never been more important to scale up and strengthen systems of sharing and redistribution. STWR will continue working to inform and influence the emerging debate around sharing, in particular to highlight the importance of sharing in relation to poverty, inequality and environmental issues on an international level.

Some of our recent activities from the past month are highlighted below, which includes a presentation by STWR in Antalya, Turkey on the need to immediately end life-threatening deprivation and needless poverty-related deaths as a foremost global priority; a discussion at the House of Commons in Westminster on whether it’s possible to change the world through sharing; and various blogs posts and comments on the many and varied ways in which organisations, professionals and engaged citizens across the world are now calling for the Earth’s resources to be shared more fairly among rich and poor.

We’ve also continued promoting our latest report on Financing the Global Sharing Economy (now available as web-pages as well as a PDF), and started work on a new website that will focus centrally on our core message in order to provide visitors with a clearer understanding about global sharing and STWR’s campaign priorities/research activities. Look out in the new year for our upcoming publications on the principle of sharing from both philosophical and political-economic perspectives, as well as new research around the need for an International Emergency Relief Program to prevent life-threating deprivation and needless deaths, as previously outlined in much earlier writings by STWR. 

Recent Activities

Rethinking the Global Economic Order              
In a presentation given to a distinguished audience at the Dialogue Eurasia Forum in Antalya, Turkey, STWR highlighted the need for the international community to immediately end life-threatening deprivation and needless poverty-related deaths by implementing 10 redistributive policies that could strengthen and scale up the ‘global sharing economy'.

Sharing at the House of Commons
Is it possible to change the world through sharing? This was the theme of a recent event held at the House of Commons in Westminster, London, which resulted in a lively discussion with a diverse range of participants about some of the policy implications of the emerging sharing economy.

The Sharing Economy: Our Sustainable Future              
In an article following the event at the House of Commons, STWR wrote that if we believe the sharing economy has a role to play in creating a fairer and more sustainable world, then we need to look broadly at how the principle of sharing applies to all aspects of policymaking – particularly on an international scale.

Imagining the Ultimate Global Sharing Day           
In an article following Global Sharing Day, STWR wrote that the growing support for the sharing economy has the potential to change the way we understand and address the many challenges we face. But it is at the national and global level that sharing can have a truly transformative impact in relation to poverty, sustainability and world peace. 

Articles and Blogs

Why Poverty? Because We Do Not Share Resources            
The recent documentary and debate series called 'Why Poverty?' highlighted the extreme differences in living standards and life chances around the world, and once again emphasised that there can never be an end to poverty until the world's resources are more equally shared.

Sharing and Cooperation in the Business World          
The concept of sharing is fundamental to the business sector, despite the huge challenges to creating an alternative economic model in the midst of a free-market, private enterprise system. Yet the co-operative movement is playing a key role in building sustainable businesses based on people and not profit.

Connecting the Dots in the Sharing Community          
The sharing economy is becoming more popular than ever before with its emphasis on accessing and sharing resources rather than owning them. And now there are signs that the concept is being gradually broadened to include more political, environmental and global justice issues, as highlighted by a number of articles and events in recent weeks.

The Gaza Crisis, Giving Thanks, and More on Austerity...             
As the Middle East dominated headlines and op-eds this week, nationwide protests against Wal-Mart in the US revealed a spirit of sharing and solidarity amid the shopping mayhem of Black Friday, while over in Europe the news was dominated by austerity, austerity and more austerity. A roundup of recent sharing-related news highlights from across the world.

The International Responsibility for Justice in Occupied Palestine           
There can be no talk of peace in the Middle East so long as Israel is given political immunity, financial assistance and diplomatic support by other Western states. It is high time that the international community assumed responsibility for securing justice for the Palestinian people.

A Welfare State for America, and for the World?             
This week saw the world’s first ever Global Sharing Day, a renewed focus on austerity and the Welfare State in America, and an ingenious initiative from Occupy to free citizens from debt distress. Is it time for Occupy to also include a worldwide safety net as one of their campaign priorities? A roundup of recent sharing-related news highlights from across the world.

Attention America: Welfare is Not a Dirty Word             
Bravo to the magazine 'In These Times' for proudly hailing the importance of the welfare state in America. It is essential that more progressives follow their example in advocating sharing on a nationwide level - which is exactly what the universal provision of social welfare is all about.