Nation-based economic analyses do not always provide an accurate picture of the distribution of income, wealth, well-being and sustainability within a country’s border. A country ranked as a prosperous economy could have just a few high-growth regions and many ‘left behind’ places. For over a decade, local economies have been buffeted by major technological, economic and political changes. Crises in particular play a decisive role in accelerating these changes while highlighting existing and possibly neglected problems as we are experiencing with the Covid crisis. Tackling social, economic and environmental inequalities in ways that benefit all is an urgent priority and local economies can play a significant role in how wealth is sourced and distributed.
Dr Malu Villela Garcia’s AXA’s Fellowship will explore how to regenerate local economies affected by the major technological, economic and political changes that result from systemic crises. She will investigate how places in the UK have used these crises as an opportunity to address major challenges of inequality and climate change, subsequently building more resilient local economies that boast inclusive, collaborative and sustainable values. Dr Villela Garcia will study how place-based experiments integrate the values of resilient economies into their response to those challenges and, in doing so, reframe and regenerate local economies.
The project will look at building a collective library of experiments aimed at producing inclusive and sustainable local economies which are being undertaken in different places in the UK by a variety of people and institutions across sectors and communities. Those experiments will be tackling social and environmental challenges at their core and offer concrete possibilities for their places to transition to more resilient futures. The aim is to identify the innovations proposed, understand what enables and hampers their development and end up with practical recommendations on how to take them forward.
The project will use a qualitative methodological approach combined with creative methods of data collection generated by the fieldwork, such as digital media products, e.g., infographics, a short documentary, and a collective poem to provide more creative and engaging tools for communicating and discussing the findings and recommendations resulting from the research. It will ultimately develop pathways that could help better guide local economies for the next decade.
The outcomes of the research will seek to inspire citizens, local governments, institutions, local organisations, and communities to pursue more disruptive ways of shifting local economies towards inclusion and sustainability.