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You are here: Home / What we do / economic justice - resisting neoliberalism / Neoliberalism explained

Neoliberalism explained

World Bank spring meetings

The problem

Trade and investment, development funding and corporate lobby are the drivers of the current economic model. This model is based on the belief that export and economic growth will make the world a better place. However, while this has been very beneficial for large corporations, it excludes and even harms the most impoverished people while greatly contributing to environmental destruction.


Transnational corporations, banks and governments are increasingly working together. They are growing more powerful every day. The voice of ordinary people gets lost in important decision making processes. Neoliberal policies, which promote privatization, increased export and international trade liberalization, are part of today’s mainstream economic thinking about wealth. But these policies, which aim to ensure higher production levels, do not take into account the true social and environmental costs and thus result in grave social inequality and exploitation of the world’s natural resources. In today’s world, it is becoming increasingly hard for many people to live a sustainable life and to exercise their basic rights.


The solution

Mainstream economic thinking has to change. Popular movements now and in the past show us there is another way forward. We need to challenge the domination of neoliberalism and create better conditions for alternative systems with a more sustainable and equitable approach.


What we’re doing

The Economic Justice – Resisting Neoliberalism Program of Friends of the Earth International follows and addresses economic developments systematically and strategically.


We expose and challenge the influence of big corporations and international institutions, we question the neoliberal policies promoted by development banks and we oppose trade negotiations that open market access to corporations instead of  taking people’s needs into account. We point out contradictions of the current development model and expose how today’s economic system benefits a few while impoverishing many. For example, we halt destructive logging by big companies, oppose mining investments that local communities do not want, and  oppose the push for large scale agrofuels. We expose and denounce the power of corporations in policies and practices that prevent communities from asserting their rights to sustainable livelihoods. We are a part of the campaign to reclaim ecological debt (In Spanish).


Besides resisting destructive policies and mobilizing people to join us, Friends of the Earth International commits itself to positive change. We raise public awareness about the changes proposed by social movements around the world and stimulate sustainable initiatives promoted by local communities. Our campaigns aim to change the course of the economy in a dynamic, creative and constructive way. We share the inspiration and the positive experiences with old and new, just and sustainable development thinking and practices. As such we create the conditions for transformation at the local, regional and international level.

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