What is Eco-affluent Convergence?
Eco-affluent convergence is the merging of two ideas, Eco-affluence and Contraction and Convergence. It is a mechanism by which everyone on earth, whether from the rich nations or the poor nations, attains affluent lifestyles that are free from hunger, poverty, fossil fuel addiction and environmentally damaging practices.
It is eco-affluent because people have abundant real wealth but their lifestyles are beneficial rather than damaging to the natural environment. It is convergent because the people from the poor nations and the rich nations all have access to the resources they need to live a happy and fulfilling life. People in the poor nations Leapfrog outdated technologies such as coal-generated electricity, while people in the rich nations Transition from environmentally damaging practices with sustainable ones. No one loses out. Everyone gains.
One of the aims of eco-affluent convergence is to bring communities together from the rich and poor nations, through a social network and for those communities to work together as they transition towards their new affluent and equitable lives. As we make real global connections, the spirit of social entrepreneurship and ubuntu should grow.
Along the way we will reverse the environmental damage done by generations of people, including relocating the excess of atmospheric carbon into the soil and vegetation and lift all our fellow human beings out of poverty at the same time. There’s a phrase in Permaculture – ‘the problem is the solution’. We are the problem. But we are the solution too.
James Martin talks about a globally sustainable civilisation in his book “The Meaning of the 21st Century”. He writes that …
“we can have spectacularly affluent civilizations where we don’t use more resources than the environment can provide. I call this eco-affluence. There can be new lifestyles of the grandest quality that heal rather than harm our global ecosystem”.
Contraction and convergence is a term used to describe the mechanism for reducing global emissions of greenhouse gases which contribute to global warming. It is based on the principles of equity and survival, whereby global carbon emissions reduce as the per capita emissions across the global population converge to the same level. Contraction & Convergence is the brainchild of Aubrey Meyer, founder and director of the Global Commons Institute (GCI).
The use of the word “contraction” to describe the framework by which we get to a better state goes against the hopes and aspirations of the people who will need to “contract” as it implies a lesser lifestyle.
We can wean ourselves off our current addiction to fossil fuels and concurrently move to a higher level of living.
As communities face the duel problems of peak oil and climate change, the need to transition towards sustainable living is clear. This new lifestyle has abundance in clean renewable energy, cradle to cradle design, organic food and community spirit. Indeed, the Transition Town movement has already started along this path.
A game you possibly played as a child, where you jump over a friend or non-moving object. In this instance we use the term to describe a process that accelerates development by skipping inferior, less efficient, more expensive or more polluting technologies and industries and moves directly to more advanced ones. For example, the adoption of solar energy technologies in developing countries would skip the need to burn fossil fuels and install expensive centralised infrastructure and leapfrog or “jump” those communities directly into the Solar Age.