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As part of our work to amplify the important work in the Wellbeing Economy movement, these WEAll Weekly Update blogs will share some of the latest and greatest updates from our membership and beyond. Please use the comment box to share any relevant updates from this week and keep the conversation going!

Weekly Reads

Decoupling Debunked – European Environmental Bureau

“Not only is there no empirical evidence supporting the existence of a decoupling of economic growth from environmental pressures on anywhere near the scale needed to deal with environmental breakdown, but also, and perhaps more importantly, such decoupling appears unlikely to happen in the future”

Growth without economic growth – European Environment Agency

“It is unlikely that a long-lasting, absolute decoupling of economic growth from environmental pressures and impacts can be achieved at the global scale; therefore, societies need to rethink what is meant by growth and progress and their meaning for global sustainability.”

If Not Now, When? – The Social Renewal Advisory Board Report

“We have a crisis of inequality in this nation that we cannot continue to tolerate. A crisis where sticking plasters fail to address negative outcomes. A crisis of performance in a system that reacts to negative outcomes rather than preventing them happening in the first place. Moves towards a wellbeing economy should be the central goal of every government.”

The Tragedy of Growth– David Barmes, Fran Boait| Positive Money 

“We must transform the structures of our economy such that they no longer require GDP growth to temporarily fend off financial, economic, and social crises. If growth is low or negative, these structures – referred to as ‘growth imperatives’ – generate multiple undesirable crises. Rising unemployment, deepening inequality and debt crises are just a few of the common consequences of insufficient growth in our current economic system.”

Transforming Towards Life-Centered Economics: How Business, Government, and Civil Society Can Build A Better World – Sandra Waddock

“This slim volume is not just as thorough and concise a summary of the need to transform our financial system as you will find anywhere. It also clearly envisions how the creation of collaborative value, sustainable stewardship, and an “enough-not-more” mantra can drive a transformational change that will benefit the all as well as the one.”

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Is economic growth compatible with ecological sustainability?

A new report from WEAll member the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) shows that efforts to decouple economic growth from environmental harm, known as ‘green growth’, have not succeeded and are unlikely to succeed in their aim.

Decoupling debunked – Evidence and arguments against green growth as a sole strategy for sustainability’ was released on 9 July 2019.

In the words of the EEB:

“In recent decades, economic growth rose to become the leading measure of changes in prosperity and wellbeing. For that reason, governments have sought to maximise the growth of their gross domestic product (GDP), which tends to involve greater resource use and more pollution.

As the climate crisis and environmental degradation worsened, policy-makers sought to square the circle of maintaining prosperity while reducing the environmental impact of economic activity by decoupling resource use from economic growth. This policy choice has become known as ‘green growth’.

Assessing green growth

Although decoupling is useful and necessary, and has occurred at certain times and places, ‘green growth’ cannot reduce resource use on anywhere near the scale required to deal with global environmental breakdown and to keep global warming below the target of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, the threshold established as part of the Paris Agreement.

This is the conclusion of ‘Decoupling debunked: Evidence and arguments against green growth as a sole strategy for sustainability’. Published by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), the report reviews the empirical evidence and theoretical literature to assess the validity of the decoupling hypothesis.

The report, whose lead author is Timothée Parrique of the Centre for Studies and Research in International Development (CERDI), finds that there is no empirical evidence supporting the existence of an absolute, permanent, global, substantial and sufficiently rapid decoupling of economic growth from environmental pressures. Absolute decoupling is also highly unlikely to happen in the future, the report concludes.

‘Decoupling debunked’ highlights the need for the rethinking of green growth policies and the urgent necessity to identify alternative approaches that can safeguard prosperity and wellbeing while protecting the environment.

The report will be available online from 9 July 2019 at: https://eeb.org/library/decoupling-debunked/

‘Decoupling debunked’ will be officially launched in October in Brussels.”