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Financing the global sharing economy, part one: the sharing economy

01 October 2012

Systems of sharing are increasingly being eroded by policies that widen inequalities and leave families in a state of poverty or destitution. As a result, humanity is now facing a global emergency in which millions of people die needlessly every year and many more suffer from life-threatening deprivation or avoidable hardship. Dealing with the structural causes of this emergency will require wholesale reform of the world economy, but in the meantime we already have the institutions and mechanisms in place to safeguard human lives across the world.

This report shows how governments could mobilise over $2.8 trillion each year in order to reverse policies of economic austerity, prevent poverty-related deaths and mitigate the human impacts of climate change as a foremost global priority. But it will only happen with a huge groundswell of public pressure that forces the international community to scale up and strengthen systems of sharing within and between nations.

Sharing is a natural human behaviour that families and communities have practiced since the dawn of civilisation, and it still informs and influences many spheres of modern life - from co-operative enterprises and ‘land share' schemes to open software development and social networking. Yet one of the most important expressions of sharing today in the field of politics and economics often goes unacknowledged. Arguably, modern systems of social welfare are the most advanced forms of sharing ever established, and the vast majority of people in developed countries are instrumental to their proper functioning.[1]

Systems of welfare and public service provision are essentially complex ‘sharing economies' that exist in a variety of forms throughout the world.[2] The principle of sharing underpins how they work by ensuring that members of society take collective responsibility for securing basic human needs and rights for all citizens. Through the process of progressive taxation and redistribution, we share a portion of the nation's financial resources (personal income and assets, as well as company profits) for the benefit of society as a whole. In most developed countries, governments redistribute a large proportion of tax revenue to ensure that the wider population can access healthcare, education and other important forms of social security.

Social protection systems in developed countries are far from perfect and not always efficiently administered, but they represent a natural evolution of the human propensity to share that builds on practices that have been familiar to people for millennia. They are also an expression of social justice, solidarity and equitable wealth distribution that can reduce inequalities and strengthen social cohesion within countries.[3] Moreover, systems of universal social protection are widely supported by many millions of people who have long recognised the role that an effective ‘sharing economy' can play in creating a fairer, more just and healthier society. 

Scaling up sharing between countries

However, the process of establishing and strengthening the sharing economy is still in its infancy in some parts of the world. Many low-income countries do not have the resources they need to build effective systems for redistributing wealth and income through taxation and the provision of public services. In many cases, developing countries also suffer additional social, environmental and financial problems that further hinder their economic development.

These realities point to the urgent need for scaling up sharing between countries as well as within them. In the globalised modern world, each nation's prosperity ultimately depends on its relationship with other nations. Rich countries therefore have a responsibility to do much more to assist poorer nations to strengthen their domestic systems of redistributive taxation and social protection, so that governments can at least meet the basic needs of their citizens and facilitate economic development.

Unlike the practice of sharing within countries, there is no equivalent system of taxation or public spending at the international level that can provide the level of support that developing countries urgently need.[4] The main exception is the international aid provided by donor countries each year, known as Official Development Assistance (ODA).[5] As explained further in section of this report on ODA, aid donations today are grossly insufficient, ineffective and often problematic for recipient countries. After decades of international aid provision, almost two and a half billion people still live below $2 a day - a figure that has hardly changed since the early 1980s.[6] Even if the Millennium Development Goal of halving rates of extreme poverty is reached, a staggering 883 million people will still be living without adequate means for survival in 2015.[7]

Given the tremendous levels of wealth that exist alongside extreme poverty and destitution, it is high time that we extend the principles that underpin national systems of sharing to encompass the global community of nations. In other words, we need to establish an effective ‘global sharing economy' that can help secure the basic needs and rights of all people across the world.[8] In the longer term, this might involve establishing new global institutions and implementing forms of direct international taxation or other innovative mechanisms.[9] As a first step, however, governments could immediately prevent the life-threatening deprivation that afflicts thousands of families every day by redistributing just a tiny portion of the world's abundant financial resources through existing mechanisms and institutions.

Box 3: The evolution of the sharing economy

Contrary to the common misconception that people are individualistic and selfish by nature, anthropologists have shown that gifting and sharing has long formed the basis of community relationships in societies across the world. A recent spate of scientific research has built on this evidence to demonstrate that as human beings we are naturally predisposed to cooperate and share in order to maximise our chances of survival and collective wellbeing. Without the act of sharing and reciprocity, there would be no social foundations upon which to build societies and economies.[10]

In light of the historical and scientific evidence, it is not surprising that the principles of sharing and equality have also been important components of many of the world's religions, as well as many secular movements such as humanism. In broadly similar ways, Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and numerous other faiths all expound the importance of sharing wealth and other resources fairly, as well as the need to protect the vulnerable and those who are less well off.

Sharing in the modern world

In recent years, the principle of sharing has re-asserted itself in the economic and social realm through the development of the internet, which has enabled people to collaborate in altogether new ways. From knowledge sharing websites like Wikipedia to social media platforms that facilitate human relationships beyond national borders, people are sharing their time, skills and experiences by creating a worldwide virtual sharing community. Although the internet has become a locus for intensive commercial activity in recent years, programmers across the world voluntarily create innovative ‘open source' programs that are widely used and freely available to all.

In parallel to this expansion of online networks, collaborative consumption has emerged as a new economic model that allows people to share various goods and services with their peers, ranging from cars and food to office space and expertise. As the proponents of this latest manifestation of the sharing economy maintain, sharing works to save money, build community and safeguard the poor, while reducing levels of personal consumption and carbon emissions in the process.[11] The growing infrastructure and community of the sharing economy also includes many other innovations and practices such as peer2peer services, crowd funding, crowdsourcing and co-production.

Co-operative enterprises have also long pioneered the sharing economy by sharing the proceeds of business activity with employees, and allowing people to come together to do things that they can't do alone. A growing body of evidence demonstrates that sharing has many social and environmental benefits, while also improving economic efficiency. Research suggests that most people are keen to share their time and resources with their local community, and that sharing makes us happy and increases our self-esteem.[12]

The principle of sharing also underpins the renewed focus on the ‘commons' - the concept that certain resources of both society and nature, including natural resources, cultural traditions and knowledge, should be held ‘in common' and shared by people and communities.[13] The late economist Elinor Ostrum was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics for her groundbreaking work on the management of land and other common-pool resources by local communities without intervention from the state or private sector.[14]

Social welfare as sharing

Such examples outlined above illustrate the growing interest among ordinary citizens, entrepreneurs, economists and policymakers in the many different aspects of the sharing economy. However, one of the most important examples of sharing economies in the modern world often goes unrecognised: publicly provided welfare systems. Although various forms of social protection can be traced at least as far back as ancient Greece, modern policies of publicly funded welfare were first implemented by Chancellor Bismarck in Germany during the 1880s. Some of the most widely known modern welfare policies include those introduced in the United States during the Great Depression, as well as the National Health Service and other forms of social security implemented in the United Kingdom following the Second World War. In the 1970s, numerous European states, including Sweden, Germany and Austria, also expanded state welfare provision significantly.

Today, sharing economies that make welfare services universally accessible are commonplace, especially in high- and middle-income countries. These national systems of sharing generally evolved alongside the recognition that everyone has certain inalienable human rights - including social and economic rights. These rights were first enshrined in international law in 1948 when nations subscribed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and they have been reinforced in a number of other international covenants since.[15]

Prioritising the global emergency

Rather than reinforcing and scaling up the sharing economy, for decades governments have pursued polices that undermine systems of social protection and exacerbate poverty and inequality. As a consequence, humanity is now facing what can only be described as a global emergency. Every day that we continue with business as usual, over 40,000 people needlessly lose their lives and many millions more are deprived of the basic essentials of food, water, adequate shelter and healthcare. Austerity measures are widening existing inequalities and causing hardship for millions of people across the world. At the same time, ecological turmoil is triggering natural disasters that are already devastating communities and escalating poverty, displacement and deprivation. It is estimated that climate change alone causes 300,000 fatalities every year, and devastates the lives of many millions more [see part 2].

Although the underlying causes of the many urgent problems facing humanity are complex and beyond the scope of this report, it is increasingly clear that resolving the world's interrelated crises will necessitate structural reforms on a scale never before attempted by the international community - a task that is widely considered the defining challenge of our times. But we cannot wait for these transformative changes to take place while millions of people are losing their lives and suffering from avoidable poverty-related causes.

Put simply, this global emergency is exacerbated by policies that undermine the sharing economy and fail to redistribute the world's vast financial resources in a way that benefits people and the planet. That being the case, everything needed to mitigate the worst impacts of the emergency already exists. The international community has both the money and the expertise to take a bold step towards saving lives and ending extreme deprivation - and as this report makes clear, doing so is eminently affordable.

Box 4: A small price to pay

  • Lifting 1.4bn people above the $1.25 a day extreme poverty line: $173bn per year.[16]

  • Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) shortfall for 2011: $45m.[17]

  • Financing the Green Climate Fund: $100bn per year.[18]

  • Money owed by UN member states to maintain UN Peacekeeping Operations: $1.36bn.[19]

  • World Food Program shortfall for 2011: $141m.[20]

  • Providing vaccines for all infants in poor countries: $3bn.[21]

  • Achieving universal primary education in low-income countries: $24bn per year.[22]

  • Responding to climate change adaptation needs in South Asia and Africa: $34bn per year.[23]

  • Reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Africa: $72bn per year.[24]

  • The total cost of meeting the MDG financing gap for every low-income country: $143bn in 2010.[25]

  • Providing basic social protection to all people living in extreme poverty: $1.26tn (2% of global GDP).[26]

Mobilising the world's financial resources

The maldistribution of wealth today highlights how distorted global priorities are and how absurdly the world's financial resources are currently managed. For example, the trillions of dollars raised to bail out banks in 2008 would be enough to end global extreme poverty for 50 years.[27] Bringing everyone above the global absolute poverty line ($1.25 a day) would require only 0.2% of global income.[28] And plugging the funding shortfall of the World Food Programme would require only $141 million [see box 4].[29] Meanwhile, multinational corporations are reporting record profits and executive remuneration and bonuses are at an all-time high, even despite the global financial crisis.[30] In 2011, the combined wealth of the world's high-net-worth-individuals - the richest 0.002% of the world population - totalled $42 trillion.[31] In the same year, governments spent $1.73 trillion on their militaries, $510 billion supporting the polluting fossil fuel industry, and a further $374 billion supporting wealthy farmers and large agribusinesses [see part 3]. 

This report demonstrates in practical terms how governments could harness more than enough money to strengthen sharing economies across the world in order to reverse policies of economic austerity, prevent life-threatening deprivation and mitigate the human impacts of climate change. Any one of the policy options highlighted in part 3 can mobilise tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars, and the combined recommendations in this report could enable the international community to mobilise over $2.8 trillion every year in order to ensure that everyone has access to the essentials of life. These figures are only broad estimates, but they demonstrate the potential for governments to collect and redistribute huge quantities of additional public finance for critical human needs - often money that they have led the public to believe does not exist or cannot be found.[32]

The structures are already in place

The institutional structures, mechanisms and expertise needed to utilise these additional financial resources to protect the vulnerable and mitigate climate change have long been in place. For example, there are already numerous international agencies working ceaselessly to provide disaster relief and prevent life-threatening deprivation in developing countries. These include humanitarian agencies like the Red Cross, a range of agencies working under the umbrella of the United Nations including the World Food Program and the World Health Organisation, as well as numerous non-governmental organisations (NGOs)  working within the international development sector that are supported by governments, private agents and the public.

Together, these institutions have the experience and expertise to prevent people dying needlessly from extreme poverty through a variety of interventions such as critical medical care, the emergency provision of food and shelter, and the securing of access to clean water for drinking and sanitation. Despite their combined expertise and capability, however, they lack the vital financial resources needed to meet the huge scale of global demand for basic humanitarian assistance. 

In relation to environmental issues, governments have already established an array of funds and mechanisms to facilitate climate change adaptation and mitigation programs in developing countries - measures that could significantly reduce the human impact of global warming. Most notably, the international community launched the Green Climate Fund in 2011, although there is still uncertainly over how governments will adequately finance its operation by 2020 [see part 2]. Alongside the many national and global strategies for transitioning to a low carbon economy, these ‘climate finance' solutions are largely independent of international agreements.

In terms of social protection, many countries already have various systems of welfare in place to provide essential public services to their citizens, and it would not be impossible to establish basic social protection programmes in countries where they are currently lacking. According to calculations by the International Labour Organisation, it could be possible to ensure that a basic level of social protection is available to the world's poor for as little as 2% of global GDP.[33]

The economic benefits of sharing

The policies set out in this report highlight many ways in which governments can mobilise hundreds of billions of dollars without creating more national debts. Using this money to reinforce the global sharing economy by preventing life-threatening deprivation in developing countries could save the lives of around 15 million people every year and enable many millions more to contribute to the social, economic, political and cultural life of their nation.[34] This makes sound economic sense at a time when economies across the world are contracting and unemployment is rising. In an interdependent world where trade and financial relationships span the globe, this massive investment in the sharing economy would stimulate demand, kick-start growth, create employment opportunities and substantially increase government revenues.

Reversing austerity measures across Europe and North America would also have a significant impact on economies by reducing unemployment and increasing the health, wellbeing and disposable income of citizens in these economically advanced regions. Similarly, investing heavily in renewable energy and green infrastructure projects as part of a ‘green new deal' on a national and global scale could create even more jobs, pave the way to a low carbon economy and mitigate the worst impacts of climate change.[35]

Together these measures would help stimulate economic activity and increase government income, helping nations to plug the hole in public finances and reverse the big cuts in government spending. These ‘stimulus policies' are widely regarded as being more effective than the programs of austerity meted out by many indebted governments today, especially in times of recession or exceptionally high deficits. Although a profound transformation of the entire global economic structure is necessary to resolve the ongoing financial crisis, in the meantime there is no excuse for undermining the sharing economy through government cutbacks in essential services.

Overcoming the barriers to progress

If we have the money, the institutions and the technical knowledge needed to ameliorate the worst impacts of the global problems highlighted in this report - and it makes sound economic sense to do so - why aren't we using our financial resources more effectively? Why are we failing to share our financial resources in the only ways that really matter - saving lives, protecting the vulnerable and transitioning to a low carbon economy? Put another way, why do we continue to neglect and even undermine the sharing economy on both national and international levels?

These questions are rarely put to policymakers, and there is a stark lack of public debate about the extent of the global emergency we face and how easily life-threatening deprivation could be prevented if we prioritised doing so. When pressed on these issues, elected officials often claim that their governments have simply run out of money to safeguard even their own citizens, let alone help those living abroad. Of course, such rhetoric is not convincing for half the world's population that lives in poverty and learns about the many trillions of dollars handed directly to banks since the financial crisis, while witnessing the lifestyles of the ‘other half' on a local television set.

Although the underlying reasons for the distorted priorities of governments are manifold, they largely stem from market-oriented values that have dominated policymaking for many decades, coupled with the increasing power and influence of the corporate sector [see box 5]. Overcoming these entrenched barriers to progress will require people to strengthen their bonds of solidarity and make a united demand for governments to put basic human needs before all other concerns.

The long-held aspiration of the international community to secure human rights for all, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, can only be achieved if governments make a commitment to share resources more equitably between and within nations. Many European governments understood this after the Second World War when they brought in a comprehensive package of social welfare despite levels of national debt that surpassed those of today. President Roosevelt introduced similar commitments in the US during the country's most severe economic depression as part of the New Deal series of economic programs between 1933 and 1936. In 1948, the US went on to kick-start a massive transfer of financial resources to a number of European countries as part of the Marshall Plan, designed to aid reconstruction and economic recovery in those countries devastated by war.

Instead of further eroding these landmark commitments to sharing financial resources in ways that benefit the wider community both at home and abroad, it is time we scaled up the sharing economy at every level of society. In response to the claim that governments cannot afford to do so, the proposals set out in this report send a clear message to policymakers: we have more than enough money available, all that lacks is the willingness to share it. 

Box 5: Why don't governments support the sharing economy?

Comprehensive solutions that address the structural causes of poverty and inequality are often dismissed by policymakers in the Global North as ‘unrealistic' given the political and economic realities they face, despite being passionately advocated by civil society organisations around the world. Incremental improvements and attempts to ‘chip away' at urgent global issues like climate change, unfair trade and Third World debt are the mainstay of international policy discussions, even though progress remains painfully slow. A central barrier to more thorough reform of the imbalanced global financial and trade system is the pro-market or ‘neoliberal' ideology that has firmly established itself as best practice amongst mainstream economists and policymakers since the early 1980s.     

The consequent unwillingness of governments to regulate the power and influence of big business has become entrenched over the period of economic globalisation - a time in which transnational corporations have extended their reach beyond national jurisdictions while amassing greater financial strength than that of many sovereign states. This is most notable in the United States where billions are spent each year by corporate lobbyists to influence political outcomes, a phenomenon that is replicated at the European Union and during negotiations at the World Trade Organisation. Over several decades, and particularly with the use of increasingly sophisticated methods of advertising, public policy under the influence of corporations has progressively fashioned a world economy that is structurally dependent upon unsustainable levels of production and consumption for its continued success.

A key dynamic of market-driven politics is to transfer control of the economy from the public to the private sector. Just as common land was progressively ‘enclosed' in the Middle Ages, other shared resources such as seeds, information and technology are increasingly privatised and controlled by multinational corporations. International rules are put in place (enforced by the World Trade Organisation) to help maintain this market-based system that encourages private ownership over public resources in order to profit from their use and exploitation. In a similar way, it is now commonplace for healthcare, education and water to be provided by private companies, making such basic services and utilities inaccessible to those who cannot afford them. Staple foods, traditionally grown for personal and local consumption, are now highly commoditised and often priced out of reach for those without sufficient purchasing power, leading to rising levels of hunger, food price crises and civil unrest in many poorer countries.

Multilateral institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund continue to promote policies that increase global inequality, even though the myth that economic growth will eventually benefit all has long been shattered. As we know, endless growth is unsustainable on a planet with finite resources. This impasse is further compounded by ecological degradation and climate change - the side-effects of economic ‘progress' that disproportionately affect the poorest people who are least to blame for causing these multiple crises.

The purely market-based approach to development has consistently failed to secure basic needs for the majority of the world's poor. Alternative mechanisms must ensure that the poorest people are guaranteed immediate access to the essentials of life as a basic human right. Given the interdependency of nations and the uneven distribution of the world's natural resources and economic power, this presents a huge challenge for the international community to develop more inclusive systems of global governance guided by the principle of sharing.

This box is extracted from the publication International Sharing: Envisioning a New Economy, published by Share The World's Resources, September 2011.

A first step toward world rehabilitation

The policies presented in this report address only one aspect of a much bigger and more complex picture. It is a matter of both justice and necessity that the world's vast financial resources are shared more equitably among countries and within societies. But of course money alone cannot address the underlying causes of poverty, inequality and climate change. At root, the real causes of these problems are structural in nature, which means they are determined by the ideologies, policies, institutions and practices that govern economies on both national and global levels. For too long, governments have pursued an economic model that overemphasises the private sector and free markets, thereby undermining the sharing economy by placing profit and growth before the welfare of all people and the environment. As campaigners across the world recognise, without addressing these structural causes the international community will never be able to create a truly sustainable and equitable world.

In this process of world rehabilitation, almost every aspect of society will need to be restructured - from the way we extract, produce, distribute and consume resources, to the influence that multinational corporations wield over society and policymaking. In an era of globalisation, transformation needs to occur on a global scale that will require a level of international cooperation that is increasingly lacking today. These urgent reforms cannot occur until governments move beyond the self-interest and aggressive competition that characterises domestic and foreign policy. The ultimate - and urgent - goal is a just world that is united and at peace, where policymaking at all levels of society is an inclusive and democratic process, and where the world's resources are managed cooperatively in an environmentally sustainable manner that guarantees equal access to present and future generations. 

Sharing the world's vast financial resources through the measures outlined in this report is only the very first step in this process of global reform. These ameliorative measures require governments to make relatively minor policy changes in order to better utilise what they already have at their disposal: abundant financial resources, capacity and expertise. Nonetheless, if governments use the money effectively, these simple reforms could yield major gains for humanity by significantly reducing needless poverty-related deaths and enabling poorer countries to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Achieving these goals could mark a tremendous leap forward for the international community and pave the way for more substantial reforms that must urgently follow.

The responsibility for change rests with us

However, even implementing the modest proposals detailed in this report will require massive public support if they are ever to become a reality. Decades of failed global conferences on issues as diverse as climate change, poverty reduction and international trade starkly illustrate the sheer lack of cooperation and goodwill that exists between nations today. The main reason for the failure of these high-level talks and summits is now widely recognised: policymaking has long been captured by powerful corporations and business lobby groups that have the ability to maintain their vested interests at all costs. ‘Business as usual' is the anthem of this lobby, and their influence over governmental decision-making - including negotiations at the United Nations - has now reached an apex.[36]

As humanity moves ever closer to social, economic and environmental tipping points, it is clear that we can no longer rely on governments alone to create the future we want. The hope for a better world rests with the participation of the global public in a call for reform that extends beyond national borders. As the widespread mobilisation of people power in 2011 demonstrated, only a united and informed public opinion is stronger than the private interests that obstruct progressive change from taking place. The responsibility to take a stand falls squarely on the shoulders of ordinary people, not just the usual campaigners and NGOs. It is imperative that millions more people recognise what is at stake and take the lead as proponents for change - the wellbeing of planet earth and future generations largely depends on this shift in global consciousness.[37]  

Safeguarding human lives across the world by reversing policies of economic austerity, ending life-threatening deprivation and mitigating the human impacts of climate change must quickly become a prevailing goal for the international community. This report calls on all citizens to make this priority their own - from ordinary people who have never campaigned before, to experienced activists and the new wave of protestors in the Occupy, Indignado and student movements. And of course, it calls on world leaders, policymakers and the business community to put human needs and environmental sustainability before the relentless drive for profit and economic growth. 

Just as we demonstrate sharing within our homes and communities, this same principle should also guide public policy at the local, national and international levels where its application could have profound implications for how we organise economies. Sharing the world's resources can save lives, increase bonds of solidarity within and between nations, reduce inequalities and help foster peace and security. The responsibility for change rests with us - ordinary, engaged citizens - to forge a united and informed world public opinion that upholds and strengthens the sharing economy in all its forms.


[1] Note on definitions: In this report, the terms ‘developed/developing country', ‘Global South/Global North' and ‘rich/poor countries' are used interchangeably for variation, although the authors are mindful of the problems and assumptions that are wrapped up in using these expressions. In particular, the term ‘development' is distasteful to many when it is equated with economic growth or defined narrowly as modernisation, as explained in detail by such authors as Wolfgang Sachs, Arturo Escobar and Gustavo Esteva. However, for the purpose of this report these terms are used in the broadest sense to indicate the differences between the economically-advanced societies of Europe and North America among others, and the less economically and technologically-advanced societies of Africa, Asia and Latin America among others.

[2] The sharing economy is a broad term used in this report that encompasses the many systems of sharing and redistribution that exist locally, nationally and globally - whether facilitated by individuals, states or other institutions. It is concerned with the social, economic, environmental, political and spiritual benefits of sharing both material and non-material resources - everything from time and knowledge to money and natural resources.

[3] Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone, Penguin, 2010.

[4] Claire Melamed, Global Redistribution as a Solution to Poverty, Institute of Development Studies, IDS In Focus Policy Briefing, Issue 11, October 2009.

[5] Note: International trade, foreign direct investment and even IMF financing can all be considered further examples of international redistribution as they involve sizable transfers of financial resources between countries. However, at present only through international aid can rich country governments directly redistribute public money to assist governments and people in poorer countries.

[6] Adam Parsons, ‘Should We Celebrate a Decline in Global Poverty?', Share The World's Resources, 16th March 2012.

[7] Thomas Pogge, The First UN Millennium Development Goal: A Cause for Celebration?, Presented at the University of Oslo, 11th September 2003, www.etikk.no/globaljustice

[8] In this report, the global sharing economy refers specifically to systems of sharing and redistribution that are international or global in nature - whether facilitated directly by people, organisations and governments or by global institutions like the United Nations. It refers to the many methods by which the international community can share their financial, technical, natural and other resources for the common good of all people. The global sharing economy is still in its infancy, but is nonetheless an important expression of the growing sense of solidarity and unity between people and nations.

[9] For example, see: Branko Milanovic, Ethical case and economic feasibility of global transfers, World Bank, August 2007.

[10] For more background and information, see for example: Charles Eisenstein, Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition, Evolver Editions, 2011; Jeremy Rifkin, The Empathic Civilization, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2009; Michael Tomasello, Why We Cooperate, Cambridge: MIT Press, 2009; Frans De Waal, The Age of Empathy, New York: Harmony Books, 2009.

[11] Latitude and Shareable Magazine, The New Sharing Economy, December 2010.

[12] Rachel Griffiths, The Great Sharing Economy, Co-operatives UK, 2011.

[13] For an introduction to the concept of the ‘commons' and the ‘global commons' see: <www.globalcommonstrust.org>; <www.schoolofcommoning.com>; <www.onthecommons.org>

[14] Elinor Ostrom, Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action, Cambridge University Press, 1990.

[15] In 1966, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) were adopted by the United Nations. Numerous other treaties were subsequently offered at the international level, generally known as human rights instruments.

[16] Oxfam, 'Bank bailout could end poverty for 50 years - Oxfam tells G20', Press release, 1st April 2009.

[17] BBC News, ‘World 'dangerously unprepared' for future disasters', 27th December 2011.

[18] UNFCCC, The Cancun Agreements, Financial, technology and capacity-building support, New long-term funding arrangements, <cancun.unfccc.int>

[19] United Nations Peacekeeping, Financing peacekeeping, <www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/operations/financing.shtml>

[20] Maha Mussadaq, 'World Food Programme: 2011-2012 operation facing a shortfall of $9.3 million', International Herald Tribune, 24th January 2011.

[21] A report by Bill Gates to G20 leaders, Innovation With Impact: Financing 21st Century Development, Executive Summary, Cannes Summit, November 2011, p. 3.

[22] The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) estimated that achieving universal primary education and the wider goals of "education for all" across 46 low-income countries by 2015 would require an additional $24 billion per year on top of an estimated existing national spending on basic

education of $12 billion in 2007. See: UNESCO, Education for All-Global Monitoring Report 2010: Reaching the Marginalized, Paris: 2010.

[23] A report by Bill Gates to G20 leaders, op cit.

[24] Ibid. 

[25] UN Millennium Project, Investing in Development: A Practical Plan to Achieve the Millennium Development goals, New York: 2005, Table 7, p. 57.

[26] International Labour Office, ‘Can low-income countries afford basic social security?', Social Security Policy Briefings, Paper 3. International Labour Office, Geneva, 2008.

[27] Oxfam, 'Bank bailout could end poverty for 50 years - Oxfam tells G20', Press release, 1st April 2009.

[28] Kate Raworth, A Safe and Just Space for Humanity: Can we live within the doughnut?, Oxfam, 13th February 2012.

[29] Maha Mussadaq, 'World Food Programme: 2011-2012 operation facing a shortfall of $9.3 million', International Herald Tribune, 24th January 2011.

[30] Henry Blodget, ‘Corporate Profits Just Hit An All-Time High, Wages Just Hit An All-Time Low', Business Insider, 22nd June 2012.

[31] Capgemini and RBC Wealth Management, World Wealth Report 2012, June 2012.

[32] Note: these figures are broad estimates based on the most recent data available at the time of writing. See individual sections in part 3 for references and further details.

[33] International Labour Organisation, World Social Security Report 2010/11, November 2010.

[34] Refer to part 2 on the ‘global emergency' for references.

[35] For example, see: New Economics Foundation, A Green New Deal, The first report of the Green New Deal Group, 21 July 2008; United Nations Environment Programme, Global Green New Deal, Policy Brief, March 2009.

[36] Paul de Clerck et al, Reclaim the UN from Corporate Capture, Friends of the Earth International, June 2012.

[37] Adam Parsons, When Will Ordinary People Rise Up?, Share The World's Resources, June 2012.

Image credit: Panos Images