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The Dancing Economist | 04/Spring 2019

The selection for this first newsletter 2019 was not easy. I resolved to work less, and I am doing quite ok: I dance more and spend more time in nature. The alarm clock rings just sporadically.

Most beautiful is the “entity Economy for the Common Good” becoming independent, not only in form of seeds but actual fruits. The “Common Good Account” is now available, yippee! Also, the first two empirical studies concerning the Common Good Balance Sheet and ECG in general are finished, in Germany and Spain. And my first research project at the IASS has been approved!

Last year, my so far biggest journey led me to Argentina, Mexico and Jakarta, where I discussed with the President of the Federation of German Industries (BDI) Dieter Kempf about World Trade at an Oxford-style panel. Following an invitation of Toniic and BMW Foundation, I danced a Common Good Lecture in Paretz.

And now, I start the spring newsletter, before summer starts…

  1. Common Good Cooperative: Common Good Account, SozialMarie, Crowd Funding Companies platform
  2. Economy for the Common Good: Sustainability Award, Momentum Meetup,
    Best Economy Forum, Quick Test
  3. Politics: ECG in the German Bundestag, ECG at UNECE, Delegates Assembly, Robert Habeck
  4. Academics: IASS research project, Valencia study, ECG Scientific Conference 
  5. Travels: Argentina-Mexico-Indonesia, Tuskany
  6. Dance: Paretz, Klangforum's "Happiness Machine"
  7. Media coverage
  8. Outlook: New: "This is not economy!", Call for Papers ECG conference
  9. Action!

I. Common Good Cooperative (Bank Project) 

The Common Good Account is now available! 

After 8.5 years after the start of the Project Bank for the Commong Good, the Common Good Account is reality! In cooperation with our bank partner, the Umweltcenter of Raiffeisenbank Gunskirchen (Center for the Environment), in personam Hubert Pupeter and Kristina Proksch, we presented Austria’s first Common Good account during a press conference in Vienna. Before, we had screened our potential account partners very carefully. In total, we had cooperation talks with four banks. The Umweltcenter of the – independent – Raiffeisenbank Gunskirchen convinced us the most, because a) it has a separate money circuit for the Common Good account, b) all loans are reviewed for environmental friendliness (the review passed our internal Common Good Examination; in the Umwelt-Beirat (ecological advisory council) are persons of trust like Helga Kromp-Kolb or Kuno Haas from Grüne Erde) and c) all loans are made transparent. Thus, we can guarantee sustainable investments corresponding to the total sum of all Common Good Account balances. This is unique in Austria, the Umweltcenter accordingly received the best rating in the Spargutbuch (DE, page 74). We started to walk along this new way together, may others follow…
→ Common Good Account (DE)
→ Opinion in profil (DE)
→ Article in DerStandard (DE)

SozialMarie: Two awards for the Cooperative for the Common Good

Just a frew days before the launch of the Common Good Account, the Common Good Cooperative received a wonderful double award: At the annual SozialMarie award, we won the 2nd main prize on Jury vote, as well as the Audience Award. The 1st main award went to the Slowakian Project Omamas. We are very grateful for the recognition as well as the financial boost: The Jury award was endowed with € 10,000.
→ More information


The crowdfunding of the Cooperative for the Common Good, led by Patrick Zaunfuchs, is developing steadily and successfully. Recently we financed part of the eco-efficient extension of a traditional bookbinder’s production site in Saalfelden as well as the House of Human Rights in Linz/Austria. At the moment, we create the first synergy between the Economy of the Common Good and the Cooperative for the Common Good in Form of a companies platform: All companies with Common Good Balance are presented and can interact with their stakeholders: customers, investors, other companies, the public etc. Please support this important project of the growing Economy for the Common Good Movement!
→ Crowdfunding of the Cooperative for the Common Good (DE)
→ Project ECG-Companies platform (DE)

II. Economy for the Common Good

Sustainability Award

The biggest sustainability event – some say of whole Europe – is the German Sustainability Award (Deutscher Nachhaltigkeitspreis). Over 1000 guests took part in the grandiose gala evening, I was invited to hold an ECG keynote and a deep-dive workshop. Both formats were received well, Brigitte Mohn from Bertelsmann Foundation congratulated personally. By Stephan Schalteggers keynote, founder of the Sustainability Management MBA at Leuphana University Lüneburg, the workshop was so well promoted that the room was overcrowded. The ECG reached a new target audience. Prof. Schaltegger offered oversee Bachelor or Master Theses on ECG research topics in his degree programme. Another highlight was the on-the-spot kick-off for the foundation of an ECG association for North Rhine-Westphalia!
→ Presentation of the ECG on the website of the Sustainability Award (DE)

First Momentum Meetup in Austria

For the first time, I invited medium-sized and major Austrian ECG pioneer companies to a “Momentum Meetup” in order to accelerate the movement in the country. Due to the still feelable impact of the negative campaign of Julius Raab Foundation, the Chamber of Commerce et al in 2013, ECG still did not unfold its full potential in Austria. In a meeting with Johannes Gutmann from Sonnentor we decided to investigate the willingness for such a meetup – the resonance was positive, in the end 23 representatives took part, among others Sonnentor, Gugler, x-net, OeAD, Baumeister Lux, Culumnatura, FH Burgenland, Stasto, Buchbinder Fuchs, Trumer Brauerei, Grüne Erde, bfi Tirol, Klangforum Wien and the Cooperative for the Common Good. Our host Kuno Haas from Grüne Erde welcomed us in snowy Almtal. The meetup lasted for a day, which was just long enough to go through big areas (introduction, situation analysis on an international level and in Austria, contacts, projects, finances). Instant fruits: Gugler, Baumeister Lux and Stasto (Tyrol) will do the ECG balance, Trumer Brauerei will introduce ECG at CulturBrauer and Slow Brewers, some project ideas of political advocacy were born. The next meetup will take place in 2019 at Buchbinderei Fuchs in Saalfelden.

Best Economy Forum 

On initiative of Carola Petrone from BioHotels, these, Bioland farmers and ECG organized the first Best Economy Forum in Bozen. This event symbolizes an alternative to the World Economy Forum in Davos, but in comparison to the World Social Forum is a forum for ethically oriented companies. These came in great quantity, especially some that are not yet members of ECG, which due to this inspiring and motivating event will now support the movement, e.g. organic fruit juice producer Völkel from Lower Saxony, the IT company CAS from Karlsruhe, Aboca from Tuscany or Fondazone Iris! Furthermore, ECG pioneers were there; key notes were held by internationally well known Vandana Shiva and Auma Obama (step sister of Barack Obama, who fights for human rights and against poverty in Kenia). I was invited to hold a political key note. The highlight was the in sito redaction and signing of a common manifesto. The next BEF is planned for 2021 with a much wider radius…  
 Manifesto of the BEF

ECG quick test

Establishing the Common Good Balance Sheet is a serious project, which requires in depth consideration of companies. Now, there is an easy-to-start decision support: a six-page quick test. In approx. 30 mins you can grasp the “spirit“ of the balance sheet and roughly estimate the current situation of your organisation. This tool can be downloaded for free.
→ ECG quick test for companies

III. Politics

ECG „Bundestag group“ meets

In the second meeting of the cross-party working group “ECG in the German Bundestag” four parties took part: CDU, SPD, Grüne and Linke. The FDP was excused. Differing from the first meeting, we discussed concrete activities, like an expertise by the research service (wissenschaftlicher Dienst) of the German Bundestag on the application of the Common Good Balance in public procurement, as well as excursions to ECG companies and communities by the group.

Stuttgart hosts Delegates Assembly

Delegates and ECG actives from Argentina, the US, Sweden and diverse other countries participated in the 7th international Delegates Assembly. A representative from Kenia tried to join as well, but did not receive a visa. I myself was a bit distracted as I was in the final sprint for my new book which will launch in autumn. The highlight was an invitation to the Stuttgart Main Hall. The city staff was quite impressed by our powerful, international movement. Anna Deparnay-Grunenberg, who introduced the „Stuttgarter ECG Modell“, was publicly honored; she was recently elected for the EU Parliament  and will take along this experience… Her party colleague and lead candidate, Sven Giegold, also promoted the ECG actively in the election campaign.   
→ WAZ-Interview with Giegold (DE)  

ECG at UNECE in Geneva 

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) with 56 member states from within and outside of Europe invited the ECG movement and VAUDE to the European preparation conference for the High Policy Forum of the UN on the SDGs in July in New York. In the Round Table to SDG 13 (climate protection), we were invited to present a case study about the Common Good Balance. The message came across well (Antje von Dewitz was very inspiring) and the Common Good Balance was being included in the Round Table’s report. The ECG info booth was covered by representatives from Italy, Germany and the UK! Spontanteously, we were invited to another event of the European Environmental Bureau on “Growth & Sustainability”, in which Matt Mayer from ECG UK (picture) started an initiative to change SDG 8 (which includes “growth”). Próxima estación: New York…

Discussion with leader of German Greens Robert Habeck

During LitCologne, I had a breakfast with the leader of the German Green Party Robert Habeck, right before we contributed to a panel discussion at the University of Cologne. Five years ago, we already had been on a panel together in Schleswig-Holstein, hence he knew about the ECG already and accordingly the discussion went deeper this time.

IV. Academics

IASS research project

Following my Senior Fellowship at the IASS (Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies) in Berlin-Potsdam in 2018, I became an “Affiliate Scholar” this year. As such, I coordinate the research project „Integrating the best and most widely used sustainability reporting frameworks into one unified and legally binding standard“. I proposed the project within the IASS „incubator“ and it was approved as the first project in this innovative programme section. It consists of three parts:

Part I: Comparative analysis and evaluation of sustainability reporting / CSR tools
Part II: Integration to a unified and standard
Part III: Draft for a legal implementation instrument

B.A.U.M. Consult GmbH München-Berlin won the call for proposals. Till the end of the year, the first part should be finalized.

Two empirical ECG studies and first scientific conference

For three years, a team around Bernd Sommer and Harald Welzer of the Universities of Flensburg and Kiel researched the ECG theoretically and empirically. The results are very pleasant for the movement. The Common Good Balance, according to the results of the research project, has the potential to contribute to a "post-growth economy” and the ECG is considered a “social innovation”. “Social innovations solve problems better than previous practices and therefore are worth being imitated and institutionalized.” And “most strategies and instruments that aim at resource efficiency use a fundamentally different approach than ECG. ECG aims at aligning entrepreneurial activities with the common good.” A second study by „Cátedra EBC“ of the University of Valencia collected 657 companies that are applying the ECG model already. 400 of these have established a Common Good Balance by December 2017. Half of these companies (206) took part in the study. Result: 17 of 20 ECG indicators in the Common Good Balance are “statistically valid”, only three overlap with regards to content. The compilation of the Balance has a significant positive impact on the ethical performance of the companies, and does not have a negative impact on finances – actually even a slightly positive one. The presentation of the study took place at the same time as the first scientific ECG one-day conference at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, in which 30 researchers from Austria and abroad participated.
Science Hub of ECG (DE) with summaries of the studies in EN
→ Press info to scientific conference (DE)
→ Press info to press conference  (presentation of studies, DE)

Convivialism seminar at University of Hamburg

The French convivialism movement, based on ideas of Ivan Illich and gathered around the sociologist Alain Caillé, composed the “Convivialist Manifesto” which is well-known in France and Germany. The initiative is close to the antiutilitarianism and the Décroissance movement. I contributed an article for the 2nd anthology (DE), in which I critically question the term itself. Frank Adloff, the German coordinator, invited me to a seminar at the University of Hamburg, which was very interesting. We discussed the book “The Road from Mont Pèlerin” by Philip Mirowski and Dieter Plehwe, which I am reading since then with great gain! We parted with the goal to establish an alternative think thank around convivialism, the Good Life for All, Common Good and well-being…
→ Interview with Frank Adloff in Deutschlandfunk (DE) about the seminar and ECG.

V. Travels

Argentina– Mexico – Jakarta

Maybe the most prominent – and daring – appearance last year was my participation in the “Oxford Style Debate” at the Asia-Pacific Conference of German Business (APK) 2018, a conference of the German Foreign Trade in Southeast Asia. Over 1000 well-off guests, mostly from Germany, took part in this mega event in a luxury hotel in Jakarta. Joe Kaeser, Dieter Zetsche, Frank Appel, Jürgen Fitschen and many more alpha males were self-evidently there. Ministers from the region bubbled in and Germany’s Peter Altmeier was prominently in action. He prepared – loudly broadcasting – the soil for growth, trade, and wealth. It is that easy. The atmosphere was a bit creepy, as all discussions totally lacked topics like climate protection, sustainability, growth criticism or free trade scepticism – apparently not necessary when “going east”. A small, but much more powerful counterpoint was the innovative format “Oxford Style Debate”, which was declined by the organisers in the first place, but younger employees insisted and got their way by convincing argumentation. I sat on the panel together with the President of the German Industry Federation (BDI) Dieter Kempf, Austrialia’s Finance Minister Mathias Cormann and Pankaj Mishra, a writer and alternative economist from India. I was well aware of what was possible in 5 minutes of presentation time, so I prepared precisely – and it worked out! Organiser Liehnhard stated in a personal letter after the conference, that the format was “one of the undisputed highlights” and that my arguments were “seldomly heard” at a “German economic conference”. “It was the first time, we let representatives of NGOs appear on stage. This experience encourages us to keep on doing so.” Also, Dieter Kempf complimented me after the panel and extended an invitation to the BDI, which already happened: In May this year, ecosense (a sub-organisation of BDI’s sustainability commissary for DAX companies) invited me to present the Common Good Balance. Attending were managers from Deutsche Bank, Siemens, Lufthansa, Bayer, Bosch etc. The reaction to the presentation was very positive and we are looking forward to the first DAX group starting a Common Good Balance!

Tuscany (Aboca)

Following a cultural event in Milan’s Stock Exchange, organized by organic medicine and nutrition company Aboca from Tuscany, I got another invitation to its headquarters in Sansepolcro near Florence. The company sells medical and dietary herbs and grew to 1500 employees in 40 years. Aboca is a Società Benefit, a legal form for companies with a social purpose, which can be founded in Italy since 2016. At the moment, Massimo Mercati, the son of the founder, is Managing Director. He is intellectually versed and broadly connected. Fritjof Capra and Stefano Zamagni are part of his network. His father Valentino Mercati established the company in 1978, starting with a small organic farm giving the company its name. Only with two exceptions, the company produces all plants in its own organic agriculture. In the headquarter’s laboratories, the company does high-tech research in medical molecular biology concerning diabetes, obesity and cancer. With it’s antitussive, Aboca even defeated pharma giants like Pfizer. In its network reaching to Spain and Portugal, there are over 600 pharmacies selling under the brand “Apoteca Natura” (I have been invited to another event in Portugal already). In Florence, Aboca took over 80% of 21 public urban pharmacies, in order to transform them to B Corps or Common Good Companies. Besides business, they do cultural events and run a pharmacy museum in Sansepolcro. At the moment, they are working on B Corporation certification, an additional Common Good Balance is in the pipe. A very good message: Aboca is willing to support political advocacy for the Common Good Balance on EU level. Right hand to the CEO, Jacopo Orlando, attended the Best Economy Forum in Bozen. We stay connected! 


My travels to Luxembourg bear beautiful consequences. After some preparation, Luxembourg’s national ECG association was founded on June 4. 22 representatives from different areas of society presented and found themselves in the prime-time news. Starting point was my invitation to the municipality Mertzig on the same day. The municipal council and mayor Mike Poiré decided unanimously to become Luxembourg’s first Common Good Municipality. Over 170 people came into the 2000-souls community, 12 civil organizations from Fair Trade to ECG were present. Luxembourg’s President of Parliament, Minister for Energy, several Delegates and members of the municipal council took part in this strong event, which will change a lot in Luxembourg.
→  News at RTL TV (LU)

VI. Dance

Common Good Dance in Paretz

I was personally invited to a vision meeting of Toniic and BMW Foundation by Charly Kleissner, expat-Tyrolian, Silicon-Valley-multi-millionaire and global Impact Investor. Besides my thoughts on “system change”, I presented a Common Good Dance Lecture with my acrobatic partner Magoa Hanke. Also there was John Elkington, inventor of the Triple Bottom Line, who recently declared his according vision as failed.
→ Trailer Common Good Dance
 John Elkington in the Harvard Business Review

„Happiness Machine“ - multi-genre production by Klangforum Wien 

The well-known contemporary music ensemble Klangforum produced a multi-genre piece addressing the Economy for the Common Good, the “Happiness Machine”. First, 10 short animation movies were commissioned to female producers, which then were set to music by composers and played live by the Klangforum. In between the clips, ensemble members narrated their approach to the Klangforum’s own Common Good Balance in an authentic and personal way. A very successful evening and impressive project!
→ Article in DiePresse (DE)
→ Pictures on Facebook
→ Blog entry by Director Sven Hartberger (DE)

VII. Media coverage

  • The Big Issue: I was selected among the Top 100 changemakers 2019
VIII. Outlook

New book „This is not economy!“

The book autumn will be hot:
"Die Innere Stimme" will be published as „Voz Interior“ in Spanish (Obrión),
"Ethischer Welthandel" will be launched as „Trading for Good“ in English (Zed Books)
and, attention please:
"This ist not economy!" - a call for the revolution of economic science
will be launched with my long-term publisher Deuticke
This is not economy! (DE)

Call for Papers 1st ECG conference November 28th/29th

The first scientific conference of the ECG movement will take place on November 28th/29th at the University for Applied Sciences in Bremen. We call for Papers under the title „Economy for the Common Good – A Common Standard for a Pluralist World?“ The conference is organized jointly by the School of Graduate and Professional Studies of the Bremen Citiy University of Applied Sciences and the Science and Research Hub of the ECG, respectively its scientific council, chaired by Günter Koch.
IX. Action!

Opening a Common Good Account
As of now all Austrians can order the Common Good Account online. German citizens would have to visit Gunskirchen, in order to show an identification. The option for a video-identification process is being reviewed at the moment and will be communicated in the next newsletter of the Cooperative for the Common Good.
→ Common Good Account (DE) 

Crowdfunding for ECG companies platform 
The ECG movement has the goal to improve the services for companies that established a Common Good Balance. Starting point is an online platform (for now in German), on which these companies can present themselves and communicate with customers, investors and other ECG companies in different ways. We aim at collecting € 150.000,- for this endeavor. Please support the campaign and share the info!

Voluntary IT support needed!
The IT hub in the ECG movement is looking for experts and/or passionates who want to support ECG members in IT questions! If you are interested or have questions regarding content and time investment, please contact petra.vogt@ecogood.org

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