In September 2019, the EuroMemo Group had its annual conference, this time in Paris. I presented a paper at the conference which draws on my work as a researcher in the project called “Model for including social benefits in investment decisions for city area development”.
Abstract: “How should capital be approached? This has become an urgent question for cities across Europe. As public budgets are under increasing pressure, cities have found it necessary to attract the funding of capitalist investors. In recent years, various financial instruments and models have been developed for that purpose. My paper will explore one of them; Sustainable Return on Investment (SuROI). The paper uses a case where a multinational builder, national real-estate companies and some other urban development actors work together for 2,5 years with the local council of Malmö in Sweden. The project aims at developing a model that draws on a broadened concept of value in investment decisions for city area development. Using the discourse of sustainability, the model is expected to account for not only economic value but also so-called social value and benefits. The process is guided by a British company. In my paper, I will show how such an approach to capital runs the risk of contributing to the increasing commodification of our lives, subordinating ourselves further to capital. This is not, however, what the leadership of the project want. Instead they want the model to promote ecologically, socially and economically sustainable urban development. But is that really feasible? On the basis of my analysis, I will draw some more general conclusions and suggest policy implications on the challenges and opportunities of approaching capital in a socio-ecological transformation.”
My paper, “Approaches to capital in the socio-ecological transformation”, is available at the conference website here.