9: In memoriam: Richard Douthwaite

Richard Douthwaite (1942-2011), co-founder of Feasta, the [Irish] Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability, died on November 14th 2011 after a long illness.

Below are some of the many tributes to him published on the Feasta website,

Rob Hopkins

I can't remember when I first met Richard. Living in Ireland and being involved in sustainability meant that Richard was somehow always there, whichever event you went to, Richard was invariably there, his commitment to these things was amazing. He was always so helpful and supportive of the young, emergent initiatives I was involved with, and always had time to chat on the phone, to clarify or to very gently help me to completely rearrange some half-baked 'eureka' moment I had had that turned out to be nothing of the sort. He had the gift, as a writer, to be able to unpack complex issues and make them understandable, reading 'Short Circuit' was a revelation for me. He was also not content for the ideas he promoted to be academic exercises, but he pioneered and supported a number of experimental local currencies and other models. I always found him kind, thoughtful and incisive. We have lost one of our keenest minds, and someone who was able to illuminate complex issues at a time when we most need him. He'll be much missed.

Rob Hopkins, Transition Network


Richard Heinberg

I'm very sorry to hear this, because it is a loss to so many of us who benefited from Richard's brilliant work. He understood better than almost anyone else what is wrong with our current economic system and how we might transition to a sustainable economy that supports all of us. We at Post Carbon Institute appreciated so much his contribution to our POST CARBON READER, and his sage counsel on economic issues.


Josh Ryan-Collins

Just wanted to pass on my condolences to Richard's family and friends. I met Richard only once at a most enjoyable conference on 'De-growth' in Barcelona but we have been in correspondence on monetary reform for many years.

His writings on money were a great inspiration to me and nef more generally, in particular 'Short Circuit' and 'Ecology of Money' which I have lent on extensively in my work here at nef, academic work and voluntary work founding the Brixton Pound in my neighbourhood in London. nef's ongoing work on monetary reform can be followed here:

The number of thinkers who grasped the idea that a fractional reserve banking system with interest-bearing debt posed an existential threat to a planet with finite resources and communicated it effectively can be counted on the fingers of one hand – I would include James Robertson and Hermann Daly as others – and Richard was one of them.
Richard's intellectual rigour was combined with a great passion to get things moving on the ground, as is clear in his work with FEASTA and complementary currencies. I think he realised from an early stage that it was no use leaving it to governments or policy makers to get to grips with the problem.

His loss is a great one to the monetary reform movement – but his work and ideas will live on.