Richard Douthwaite

Today I received the sad and most unexpected news that Richard died yesterday, after a long illness. 

He last wrote in June, valuing the network post on the refocussing of the work of the Feasta Climate Group, but I assumed that he was busy and thought no more of it. 

After reading about his thinking in 1996 in an article on ‘downshifting’ in the Independent on Sunday’, I sent a copy of a survey of alternative practice in this country which had been written for my Indian colleagues.  He was very encouraging and said that we should work together whenever possible. 

I later found by chance that he had stayed at our centre in Mumbai as a young ‘unconverted’ economist.

After reading Short Circuit and – later – The Growth Illusion, the founder, Winin Pereira, was amazed and very pleased to see how Richard’s thinking had changed during that Indian tour. 

Highlights were forming a local group to comment on the draft of the Ecology of Money’ and arranging for my Indian colleagues – Winin and Subhash Sule – to help with information for a chapter in the second edition of the Growth Illusion, ‘The Mahatma’s Message’. These books are all closely relevant to today’s concerns. 

When I pointed out that much alternative thinking presumed a rural setting and asked if anyone was working on urban potential, he warmly recommended the ‘Lean Economy’ work of the late David Fleming and put me in touch with him – another valuable service. 

In 1998 he was a co-founder of FEASTA, which ‘aims to identify the characteristics (economic, cultural and environmental) of a truly sustainable society, articulate how the necessary transition can be effected and promote the implementation of the measures required for this purpose’.

There is an opportunity for readers who knew him well to add a short message on their website. 


He will be missed – but not forgotten. 

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