Important stuff here from the Sustainable Development Commission, in line
with arguments that I have made previously on this blog:
Synopsis – Prosperity without Growth?
The economy is geared, above all, to economic growth. Economic policy in
the current recession is all about returning to growth – but an economic
crisis can be an opportunity for some basic rethinking and restructuring.
Two objectives other than growth – sustainability and wellbeing – have
moved up the political and policy-making agenda in recent years,
challenging the overriding priority traditionally given to economic growth.
SDC's "Redefining Prosperity" project has looked into the connections and
conflicts between sustainability, growth, and wellbeing. This project has
now resulted in a major SDC report: 'Prosperity without Growth?: the
transition to a sustainable economy' by Professor Tim Jackson, SDC's
Prosperity without growth? analyses the relationship between growth and
the growing environmental crisis and 'social recession'. In the last
quarter of a century, while the global economy has doubled, the increased
in resource consumption has degraded an estimated 60% of the world's
ecosystems. The benefits of growth have been distributed very unequally,
with a fifth of the world's population sharing just 2% of global income.
Even in developed countries, huge gaps remain in wealth and well-being
between rich and poor.
While modernising production and reducing the impact of certain goods and
services have led to greater resource efficiency in recent decades, our
report finds that current aspirations for 'decoupling' environmental
impacts from economic growth are unrealistic. The report finds no evidence
as yet of decoupling taking place on anything like the scale or speed
which would be required to avoid increasing environmental devastation.
Prosperity without growth? proposes twelve steps towards a sustainable
economy and argues for a redefinition of "prosperity" in line with
evidence about what contributes to people's wellbeing.