Green economy  |  Publications  |  30.08.2011

Prosperity without Growth?

Tim Jackson’s landmark report for the Sustainable Development Commission makes the case that it is not possible to decouple GNP growth from resource consumption, and argues it is possible to provide well-being and sustainability without the constant objective of increasing GDP.

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, the 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.

Edited text from the Sustainable Development Commission website.

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