Regional currencies help creating a regional orientated economy. Furthermore ecological and social aspects are influenced.
Shorter transportation distances
Given that regional currencies support regional economic cycles and build up new value creation chains in the region, it becomes possible to produce and distribute goods now in the region, which had to be imported before. It becomes clear: The transport distances are shorter. Less transport means less pollution and therefore less harm to nature. If production and consumption come closer together, alternative traffic solutions become possible. It is useful to analyse if regional currencies can help to organize the regional mass transit and transportation of goods more effectively.
Production processes become more transparent
When production and consumption moves more together the production process becomes more transparent for the end-consumer. It is easier for companies not to adhere to environmental standards if the company operates far from its delivery area. If value creation chains get relocated into the region and at the same time come closer to the end-consumer then the production process becomes better observable and the probabilities for influence increase.
Then end of the force to grow?
Today's constant positive interest rate is a reason for the necessity of national economies to grow: a interest rate above 0% forces the producing economy to grow at least as fast as that. The force to grow is problematical also in terms of ecology.
Currencies with circulation assurance lower the interest rate at the credit market. The reduced interest should remove tension from the need to grow. Moreover lower interest rates would change the amortisation procedure what would make the economic actors prefere a longterm instead of short term orientation.
The result is: long life products are superior to cheap products in the market competition. The throwaway society, which is problematic for the ecology, can be transformed into a sustainable economy.
In the current process that is imprecisely labeled as “globalisation” global processes often dominate local conditions. Social networks are often thinned out because of the movement of people or regional characteristics fall victim to the stress of competition of global trusts. If this process goes on, then it is possible that cultural diversity will be destroyed by global homogeneity.
Regional Culture and Identity
Regional economies can help to maintain and support the diversity on our planet. When global trade flows are complemented by regional markets then cultures that can not survive in the global competition can develop within these small scale structures.
The name of a regional currency and its relation to a specific region can help that users of the currency feel more attached to the identity of the region. ( see: Regionalwährungen/Lokalwährungen: Optimale Währungsräume). For example, who lives in the Lausitz and pays with "Lausitzer" (www.lausitzer.net) will have a special relation to its cultural environment because of the every day experience to pay in regional currency. Seen from this perspective, regional currency is also a tool to create identity and further a means for regional cultural development.
Related to larger social processes there is the vision of an “Europe of Regions” that expresses that a united Europe should rely on regional structures.
involvement of different social groups
Regional money is a tool that operates relatively close to the community. To start a regional currency initiative it is not necessary to wait for the “big policy” to act, rather it can be implemented actively with the help of few people. This is why different social groups are concerned with this topic and people for whom the “big policy” is normally “to far away” get actively involved in the social process.
Aspects of education
Experience shows: People who are intensively concerned with regional currencies are automatically concerned with the following topics:
- What is money, where does it come from and how does it work?
- How is an economy organised and what part plays the individual in it?
- Where do the products come from that I buy? How can I consume regionally?
- What belongs to my region? How do I define my region?
Economy, money, the engagement with regional products, regional companies and the characteristics of the own region emerged as aspects that are important for people that are interested in regional currencies. Furthermore there is connection to aspects like regional traffic concepts, decentralised energy supply, regenerative energy sources, ecological agriculture and many more.
It can be said that regional money gives interesting and important impulses for the non institutionalised education sector.
Regional currencies initiate a social process that appeals to various groups and integrates them. They are tools for building identities and help to maintain and develop specific cultural characteristics. They help to move production processes closer to the consumer and to make these processes more transparent. Shorter transportation distances preserve the environment. The avoidance of economic growth pressure has indirect effects on nature and environment.
Norbert Rost, www.regionales-wirtschaften.de, last update: 09.12.2007, translation by Friedemann Ebelt, Original article: Ökologische und soziale Aspekte regionaler Währungen