Some of the most passionate supporters of the environment argue that we cannot make the necessary changes within the current consumer oriented capitalist system. They point to the fact that growth in the 20th century was all about resource depletion.
Economic growth is not an end, but rather a means to an end. Because economic growth is premised on the concept of increasing quantity, it may be more productive to frame the issue in terms of economic development. Economic development looks at growth as a means of achieving a higher level of individual and societal well-being. While economic growth is about quantity, economic development is about quality. A well developed economy is one that meets people’s needs and provides well-being for everyone.
Economic development is based on the collective good which is ultimately about creating more value per person.
UNEP’s Executive Director Achim Steiner said in the statement: “With 2.5 billion people living on less than two dollars a day and with more than two billion people being added to the global population by 2050, it is clear that we must continue to develop and grow our economies. But this development cannot come at the expense of the very life support systems on land, in the oceans or in our atmosphere.”
Growth and resource depletion are not inexorably linked and given the urgency, the green economy is the only solution we have of capable of addressing the environmental and social threats we face.
We simply do not have time to rebuild society anew, nor is it reasonable to wipe the slate clean. In the form of economic development, growth can serve the earth and its inhabitants. However future growth will not be based on wanton resource depletion, it will be about increased efficiency and productivity.
© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.
The False Choice Between the Economy and the Environment
Investing in Green Economic Growth
Sustainable Growth Excludes Fossil Fuels
Belief in Global Warming is Tied to the Economy
Global Trends 2025: A Greener World