The Charles Léopold Mayer Foundation for the Progress of Humankind (FPH) is a Swiss foundation that makes grants to civil society movements and organisations to support their actions in favour of a social and ecological transition.
The Veblen Institute was created at the end of 2010 because the amplitude of environmental, financial, economic and social crises has made one thing clear: our societies are ‘wrong-headed’ and have organised the economy poorly. It is urgent that we work toward a sustainable society in which respect for the physical limits of the planet goes hand in hand with a social organisation that is more solidarity-based and an economy that is more democratic than the ones we have today. The Institute’s mission is thus to “help reform economic thought by promoting the principles of a social and ecological economy that can meet the challenges of sustainable development”.
The association acts as a ‘think tank’ for the ecological transition and works closely with many different civil society actors on different levels: networks of experts from universities and institutions, NGO networks, the political realm, unions, public administration, social movements and citizen groups, media and actors in the field. Its focus is on France, but the Institute also works very closely with European and international networks.
The Veblen Institute strives to establish bridges between three areas: academic reflection on the economy, definition of public policies and industry-specific technical expertise. These are, of course, abstract philosophical bridges, but they are also bridges between the various people who work in these three areas.
One of the Institute’s key skills is that it manages to work with various actors yet supplants none, and that it brings forth a coherent vision to replace the sectorial approaches and isolated expertise that still dominate debate.
The Institute focuses on economic challenges, which it defines in three ways:
Economic thought itself must be renewed, because dominant economic theory is particularly ill-suited to meet challenges and is a real intellectual obstacle on the path to a sustainable society.
The ecological transition needs public policies that do not reduce it to a simple ‘greening’ of the current system. Many questions must be asked: What jobs policy will allow us to move toward a post-growth society, and with what purchasing power? What monetary and financial system could contribute to this change? What new balance will be found between the market, the State and other actors involved in the production of goods and services? What are the new ways of consuming, producing, working and living together? What role will citizen participation play?
The task of coming up with proposals cannot be accomplished without technical knowledge from the sectors involved: transportation, energy, agriculture, housing, production systems, etc. The association feels it is important to involve experts in efforts to produce proposals for reform.