Although we tend to think of growth and expansion as key to sustainable economy a new movement called 'degrowth' is suggesting a better way.
'In my work on the Sustainable Development Commission, I came to realize that the relentless appetite of human beings for consumption coupled with the relentless appetite of capitalists for accumulation, is fueling the planetary emergency.' Professor Tim Jackson
Jackson, Professor of Sustainable Development at the University of Surrey and Director of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP) poses an important question: 'If endless growth is essential to prosperity and, at the same time, leads to ecological destruction, what should we do?'
It's fairly obvious there is potential conflict between a growth-based economy and a finite planet. Up til now we've relied on the creative development of green technology to solve this problem but slow results and uncertainty call for an additional solution.
Sustainable and development is an oxymoron and that's why the Degrowth movement questions the ideology of 'growth'. It suggests an entirely different economy for the move to a truly sustainable world. One that's based on care and distribution of what we already have available. This includes growing food in urban gardens, sharing and swapping produce, different ways of distributing food through cooperation between consumer and producer, communal kitchens, house sharing, eco-communities, combining health care, children and elderly care and renewable energy. It also looks at using different currency options like bartering, time exchange or time banks, financial cooperatives (like stokvels), ethical banks and community currencies (like one based on exchanging talents). These currencies are invaluable in collapsed or strained economies.
Degrowth suggests centering society around the care of elders, children and the infirm. This model leaves space for those unemployed to be involved in caring and builds a more humane society. Reducing unnecessary consumerism will create surplus that can be distributed more ethically and allow humans meaningful exchange.
Tim Jackson asks, 'Can we imagine an economy in which enterprise provides outputs that enable people to flourish without destroying ecosystems; where work offers respect, motivation, and fulfillment to all; where investment is prudential in terms of securing long-term prosperity for all humanity; and where systems of borrowing, lending, and creating money are firmly rooted in long-term social value creation rather than in trading and speculation?'
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