We need a stability and wellbeing pact, not more growth. #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #StopAdani #EndCoal #ClimateChange #Drought #Bushfire #PostGrowth #Economy #TheDrum #QandA

This week, scientists, politicians, and policymakers gathered in Brussels for a landmark conference.

The aim of this event, organised by members of the European parliament from five different political groups, alongside trade unions and NGOs, is to explore possibilities for a “post-growth economy” in Europe.

For the past seven decades, GDP growth has stood as the primary economic objective of European nations. But as our economies have grown, so has our negative impact on the environment.

We are now exceeding the safe operating space for humanity on this planet, and there is no sign that economic activity is being decoupled from resource use or pollution at anything like the scale required. Today, solving social problems within European nations does not require more growth. It requires a fairer distribution of the income and wealth that we already have.

Growth is also becoming harder to achieve due to declining productivity gains, market saturation, and ecological degradation.

If current trends continue, there may be no growth at all in Europe within a decade.

Right now the response is to try to fuel growth by issuing more debt, shredding environmental regulations, extending working hours, and cutting social protections.

This aggressive pursuit of growth at all costs divides society, creates economic instability, and undermines democracy.

Those in power have not been willing to engage with these issues, at least not until now.

The European commission’s Beyond GDP project became GDP and Beyond.

The official mantra remains growth — redressed as “sustainable”, “green”, or “inclusive” – but first and foremost, growth.

Even the new UN sustainable development goals include the pursuit of economic growth as a policy goal for all countries, despite the fundamental contradiction between growth and sustainability.

The good news is that within civil society and academia, a post-growth movement has been emerging.

It goes by different names in different places: décroissance, Postwachstum, steady-state or doughnut economics, prosperity without growth, to name a few.

Since 2008, regular degrowth conferences have gathered thousands of participants.

A new global initiative, the Wellbeing Economies Alliance (or WE-All), is making connections between these movements, while a European research network has been developing new “ecological macroeconomic models”.

Such work suggests that it’s possible to improve quality of life, restore the living world, reduce inequality, and provide meaningful jobs – all without the need for economic growth, provided we enact policies to overcome our current growth dependence.

Some of the changes that have been proposed include limits on resource use, progressive taxation to stem the tide of rising inequality, and a gradual reduction in working time.

Resource use could be curbed by introducing a carbon tax, and the revenue could be returned as a dividend for everyone or used to finance social programmes.

Introducing both a basic and a maximum income would reduce inequality further, while helping to redistribute care work and reducing the power imbalances that undermine democracy.

New technologies could be used to reduce working time and improve quality of life, instead of being used to lay off masses of workers and increase the profits of the privileged few.

Given the risks at stake, it would be irresponsible for politicians and policymakers not to explore possibilities for a post-growth future. The conference happening in Brussels is a promising start, but much stronger commitments are needed. As a group of concerned social and natural scientists representing all Europe, we call on the European Union, its institutions, and member states to:

1. Constitute a special commission on post-growth futures in the EU parliament. This commission should actively debate the future of growth, devise policy alternatives for post-growth futures, and reconsider the pursuit of growth as an overarching policy goal.

2. Incorporate alternative indicators into the macroeconomic framework of the EU and its member states. Economic policies should be evaluated in terms of their impact on human wellbeing, resource use, inequality, and the provision of decent work. These indicators should be given higher priority than GDP in decision-making.

3. Turn the stability and growth pact (SGP) into a stability and wellbeing pact. The SGP is a set of rules aimed at limiting government deficits and national debt. It should be revised to ensure member states meet the basic needs of their citizens, while reducing resource use and waste emissions to a sustainable level.

4. Establish a ministry for economic transition in each member state. A new economy that focuses directly on human and ecological wellbeing could offer a much better future than one that is structurally dependent on economic growth.

Dr Dan O’Neill, Associate Professor, University of Leeds, UK

Dr Federico Demaria, Researcher, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain

Dr Giorgos Kallis, Professor, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain

Dr Kate Raworth, Author of ‘Doughnut Economics’, UK

Dr Tim Jackson, Professor, University of Surrey, UK

Dr Jason Hickel, Lecturer, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK

Dr Lorenzo Fioramonti, Professor, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Dr Marta Conde, President of Research & Degrowth, Spain

Dr Kevin Anderson, Deputy Director, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, UK

Dr Steve Keen, Professor, Kingston University, UK

Dr Saskia Sassen, Professor of Sociology, Columbia University, USA

Dr Ann Pettifor, Director, Policy Research in Macroeconomics (PRIME), UK

Dr Serge Latouche, Université Paris Sud, France

Dr Kate Pickett, Professor, University of York, UK

Dr Susan George, President of the Transnational Institute-TNI, Netherlands

Dr Joan Martinez Alier, Professor, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Catalonia

Dr David Graeber, Professor, London School of Economics, UK

Dr Juan Carlos Monedero Fernández, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain

Dr Dominique Méda, Professor, University Paris Dauphine, France

Dr Lourdes Beneria, Professor Emerita, Cornell University, USA

Dr Inge Røpke, Professor, Aalborg University, Denmark

Dr Niko Paech, Professor, University of Siegen, Germany

Dr Jean Gadrey, Professor, University of Lille, France

Dr Nadia Johanisova, Lecturer, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic

Dr Wolfgang Sachs, Research Director Emeritus, Wuppertal Institut, Germany

Dr Stefania Barca, Senior Researcher, Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra, Portugal

Dr Gilbert Rist, Emeritus Professor, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Switzerland

Dr György Pataki, Professor, Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary

Dr Simone D’Alessandro, Professor, University of Pisa, Italy

Dr Ian Gough, Visiting Professor, London School of Economics, UK

Dr Iñigo Capellán-Pérez, Researcher, University of Valladolid, Spain

Dr Amaia Pérez Orozco, Researcher, Colectiva XXK, Spain

Dr Max Koch, Professor, Lund University, Sweden

Dr Fabrice Flipo, Professor, Institut Mines Télécom-BS et LCSP Paris 7 Diderot, France

Dr Matthias Schmelzer, Researcher, University of Jena and Konzeptwerk Neue Ökonomie, Germany

Dr Óscar Carpintero, Associate Professor, University of Valladolid, Spain

Dr Hubert Buch-Hansen, Associate Professor, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark

Dr Christos Zografos, Pompeu Fabra University, Spain

Dr Tereza Stöckelová, Associate Professor, Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic

Dr Alf Hornborg, Professor, Lund University, Sweden

Dr Eric Clark, Professor, Lund University, Sweden

Dr Miklós Antal, Researcher, University of Leeds, UK

Dr Jordi Roca Jusmet, Professor, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain

Dr Philippe Defeyt, Chairman, Institute for Sustainable Development, Belgium

Dr Erik Swyngedouw, Professor, University of Manchester, UK

Dr Christian Kerschner, Assistant Professor, Modul University Vienna, Austria

Dr Agata Hummel, Assistant Professor, University of Adam Mickiewicz, Poland

Dr Frank Moulaert, Emeritus Professor, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium

Dr Frank Adler, Researcher, Brandenburg-Berlin Institute for Social Scientific Research, Germany

Dr Janne I. Hukkinen, Professor, University of Helsinki, Finland

Dr Jorge Riechmann, Professor, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain

Samuel Martín-Sosa Rodríguez, Responsable de Internacional, Ecologistas en Acción, Spain

Dr John Barry, Professor, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland

Dr Linda Nierling, Senior Scientist, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany

Dr Ines Omann, Senior Researcher, Austrian Foundation for Development Research, Austria

Dr Hug March, Associate Professor, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Spain

Dr Jakub Kronenberg, Associate Professor, University of Lodz, Poland

Yayo Herrero, Miembro del Foro de Transiciones, Spain

Dr Isabelle Anguelovski, Professor, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain

Dr François Schneider, Researcher, Research & Degrowth, France

Dr Vasilis Kostakis, Senior Researcher, Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia

Dr Enric Tello, Professor, University of Barcelona, Spain

Dr Andrew Sayer, Professor, Lancaster University, UK

Dr Kate Soper, Emerita Professor, London Metropolitan University, UK

Dr Klaus Hubacek, Professor, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Austria

Dr Brent Bleys, Assistant Professor, Ghent University, Belgium

Dr Jill Jäger, Independent Scholar, Vienna, Austria

Dr Mauro Gallegati, Professor, Università Politecnica delle Marche, Italy

Dr Peadar Kirby, Professor Emeritus, University of Limerick, Ireland

Dr Inés Marco, Researcher, University of Barcelona, Spain

Dr Ivan Murray Mas, Assistant Lecturer, Universitat de les Illes Balears, Spain

Dr Alexandros Kioupkiolis, Assistant Professor, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

Dr Aurore Lalucq, Co-Director, Veblen Institute, France

Dr Gaël Plumecocq, Researcher, French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), France

Dr David Soto Fernández, Associate Professor, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Spain

Dr Christian Kimmich, Researcher, Masaryk University Brno, Czech Republic

Dr Giacomo D’Alisa, Researcher, Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra, Portugal

Dr Seth Schindler, Senior Lecturer, University of Manchester, UK

Dr Philippe Roman, Researcher, ICHEC Brussels Management School, Belgium

Dr Lorenzo Pellegrini, Associate Professor, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands

Dr Erik Gómez-Baggethun, Professor, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway

Dr Tommaso Luzzati, Assistant Professor, University of Pisa, Italy

Dr Christoph Gran, ZOE Institute for Future Fit Economies, Germany

Dr Tor A. Benjaminsen, Professor, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway

Dr Barry McMullin, Professor, Dublin City University, Ireland

Dr Edwin Zaccai, Professor, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium

Dr Jens Friis Lund, Professor, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Dr Pierre Ozer, Researcher, Université de Liège, Belgium

Dr Louison Cahen-Fourot, Researcher, Institute for Ecological Economics, Wirtschaftsuniversität Vienna, Austria

Dr Tommaso Rondinella, Researcher, Italian National Institute of Statistics, Italy

Dr Julia Steinberger, Associate Professor, University of Leeds, UK

Dr Andrew Fanning, Marie Curie Research Fellow, University of Leeds, UK

Jose Luis Fdez Casadevante Kois, Miembro del Foro Transiciones, Spain

Dr Seema Arora-Jonsson, Professor, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden

Dr Astrid Agenjo Calderón, Lecturer, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Spain

Dr Tom Bauler, Professor, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium

Dr Gregers Andersen, Independent Researcher, Denmark

Dr Peter Söderbaum, Professor Emeritus, Mälardalen University, Sweden

Dr Lourenzo Fernandez Priero, Professor, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Dr John R Porter, Emeritus Professor, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Dr François Thoreau, Senior Researcher, University of Liege, France

Mariagiulia Costanzo Talarico, Researcher, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Spain

Dr Maria Nikolaidi, Senior Lecturer, University of Greenwich, UK

Dr Ekaterina Chertkovskaya, Lecturer, Lund University, Sweden

Dr Stefan Gaarsmand Jacobsen, Assistant Professor, University of Roskilde, Denmark

Dimitar Sabev, Researcher, University of National and World Economy, Bulgaria

Dr Mladen Domazet, Research Director, Institute for Political Ecology, Croatia

Dr Hans Diefenbacher, Professor, University of Heidelberg, Germany

Dr Marco Armiero, Director of the Environmental Humanities Laboratory, Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden

Dr Irene Ring, Professor, Technische Universität Dresden, Germany

Dr Christine Bauhardt, Professor, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany

Dr Dominique Bourg, Professor, University of Lausanne, Switzerland

Dr Tomas Ryska, Lecturer, University of Economics, Czech Republic

Dr Filka Sekulova, Researcher, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain

Dr Andrej Lukšič, Associate Professor, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

Dr Adrian Smith, Professor, University of Sussex, UK
Dr Serenella Iovino, Professor, Università di Torino, Italy

Dr Helga Kromp-Kolb, Professor, University of Renewable Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria

Dr Roberto De Vogli, Associate Professor, University of Padova, Italy

Dr Danijela Dolenec, Assistant Professor, University of Zagreb, Croatia

Dr Alexandra Köves, Senior Lecturer, Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary

Dr Antoine Bailleux, Professor, Université Saint-Louis – Bruxelles, Belgium

Dr Christof Mauch, Director, Rachel Carson Centre for Environment and Society, Germany

Ajda Pistotnik, Independent Researcher, EnaBanda, Slovenia

Dr Branko Ančić, Researcher, Institute for Social Research for Social Research in Zagreb, Croatia

Dr Marija Brajdic Vukovic, Assistant Professor, University of Zagreb, Croatia

Dr Manuel González de Molina, Professor, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Spain

Dr Kye Askins, Reader, University of Glasgow, UK

Dr Carlos de Castro Carranza, Profesor Titular de Física Aplicada, Universidad de Valladolid, Spain

Dr Annika Pissin, Researcher, Lund University, Sweden

Dr Eva Fraňková, Assistant Professor, Masaryk University, Czech Republic

Dr Helga Kromp-Kolb, Professor, University of Renewable Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria

Dr Lidija Živčič, Senior Expert, Focus, Association for Sustainable Development, Slovenia

Dr Martin Pogačar, Research Fellow, ZRC SAZU, Slovenia

Dr Peter Nielsen, Associate Professor, Roskilde University, Denmark

Yaryna Khmara, Researcher, University of Lodz, Poland

Dr Ika Darnhofer, Associate Professor, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Austria

Dr Isabelle Cassiers, Professor, Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium

Dr Mihnea Tanasescu, Researcher, Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) and Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Belgium

Dr Daniel Hausknost, Assistant Professor, Institute for Social Change and Sustainability, Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria

Dr Christoph Görg, Professor, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, Austria

Dr Andreas Novy, Professor, Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria

Dr Fikret Adaman, Professor, Boğaziçi University, Turkey

Dr Bengi Akbulut, Assistant Professor, Concordia University, Canada

Dr Kevin Maréchal, Professor, Université de Liège, Belgium

Dr Anke Schaffartzik, Researcher, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain

Dr Milena Buchs, Associate Professor, University of Leeds, UK

Dr Jean-Louis Aillon, Researcher, University of Genova, Italy

Dr Melanie Pichler, Researcher, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Austria

Dr Helmut Haberl, Associate Professor, Institute of Social Ecology, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Austria

Dr Julien-François Gerber, Assistant Professor, International Institute of Social Studies, Netherlands

Dr John Holten-Andersen, Associate Professor, Aalborg University, Denmark

Theresa Klostermeyer, Officer for Sustainability and Social Change, German League for Nature, Animal and Environmental Protection, Germany

Dr Lyla Mehta, Professor, Institute of Development Studies, UK

Dr Geneviève Azam, Professor, Université Jean Jaurès, France

Dr Hermann E. Ott, Professor, University of Sustainable Development Eberswalde, Germany

Dr Angelika Zahrnt, Professor, Institute for Ecological Economic Research, Germany

Dr Melissa Leach, Director, Institute of Development Studies (IDS), University of Sussex, UK

Dr Irmi Seidl, Assistant Professor, Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Switzerland

Dr Shilpi Srivastava, Research Fellow, Institute of Development Studies, UK

Dr Elgars Felcis, Researcher, University of Latvia, Chairman of Latvian Permaculture Association, Latvia

Dr Tilman Santarius, Professor, Technische Universität Berlin and Einstein Center Digital Futures, Germany

Nina Treu, Coordinator of Konzeptwerk Neue Ökonomie, Germany

Dr Laura Horn, Associate Professor, Roskilde University, Denmark

Jennifer Hinton, Researcher, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden

Dr Friedrich Hinterberger, President, Sustainable Europe Research Institute, Austria

Dr Miriam Lang, Assistant Professor, Universidad Andina Simón Bolivar, Ecuador

Dr Susse Georg, Professor, Aalborg University, Denmark

Dr Silvio Cristiano, Researcher, Università degli Studi di Napoli ‘Parthenope’ & Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Italy

Dr Petr Jehlička, Senior Lecturer, Open University, UK

Dr Maja Göpel, Professor, Leuphana University, Member Club of Rome, Germany

Dr Geraldine Thiry, Associate Professor, ICHEC Brussels Management School, Belgium

Dr Olivier Malay, Researcher, University of Louvain, Belgium

Dr Richard Lane, Researcher, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, Netherlands

Dr Laura Centemeri, Researcher, National Centre for Scientific Research, France

Dr Stephan Lessenich, Professor, Ludwig Maximilians University, Germany

Timothée Parrique, Researcher, Stockholm University, Sweden

Dr Ludivine Damay, Lecturer, Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium

Dr Janis Brizga, Researcher, University of Latvia, Latvia

Dr Claudio Cattaneo, Associate Professor, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain

Dr Miquel Ortega Cerdà, Advisor, Barcelona City Council

Dr Olivier De Schutter, Professor, Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium

Dr Annalisa Colombino, Assistant Professor, Institute of Geography and Regional Sciences, University of Graz, Austria

Dr Philip von Brockdorff, Head of the Department of Economics, University of Malta, Malta

Dr Sarah Cornell, Senior Researcher, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden

Dr Ruth Kinna, Professor, Loughborough University, UK

Francesco Gonella, Professor, Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Italy

Orsolya Lazanyi, Researcher, Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary

Dr Eva Friman, Director at Swedesd, Uppsala University, Sweden

Dr Pernilla Hagbert, Researcher, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden

Vincent Liegey, Co-Author of ‘A Degrowth Project’, Hungary

Dr Manlio Iofrida, Associate Professor, University of Bologna, Italy

Dr Mauro Bonaiuti, Lecturer, University of Turin, Italy

Dr Marco Deriu, Researcher, University of Parma, Italy

Dr Eeva Houtbeckers, Postdoctoral Researcher, Aalto University, Finland

Dr Guy Julier, Professor, Aalto University, Finland

Dr Anna Kaijser, Lecturer, Linköping University, Sweden

Dr Petter Næss, Professor, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway

Dr Irina Velicu, Researcher, Center for Social Studies, University of Coimbra, Portugal

Dr Ulrich Brand, Professor, University of Vienna, Austria

Dr Christina Plank, Researcher, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Austria

Dr Karolina Isaksson, Senior Research Leader, Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute, Sweden

Dr Jin Xue, Associate Professor, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway

Dr Rasmus Steffansen, Researcher, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway

Dr Irmak Ertör, Researcher, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain

Dr Maria Hadjimichael, Researcher, University of Cyprus, Cyprus

Dr Carlo Aall, Researcher, Western Norway Research Institute, Norway

Dr Claudiu Craciun, Lecturer, National School of Political Studies and Administration (SNSPA), Romania

Dr Tuuli Hirvilammi, Researcher, University of Jyväskylä, Finland

Dr Tuula Helne, Senior Researcher, The Social Insurance Institution of Finland, Finland

Davide Biolghini, Researcher, Rete italiana Economia Solidale (RES), Italy

Dr Pasi Heikkurinen, Lecturer, University of Leeds, UK

Dr Anne Tittor, Researcher, University of Jena, Germany

Dr Dennis Eversberg, Researcher, University of Jena, Germany

Dr Herman Stål, Lecturer, Umea School of Business, Economics and Statistics, Sweden

Dr Hervé Corvellec, Professor, Lund University, Sweden

Dr Anna Heikkinen, Researcher, University of Tampere, Finland

Dr Karl Bonnedahl, Researcher, Umea University, Sweden

Dr Meri Koivusalo, Professor, University of Tampere, Finland

Dr Martin Fritz, Researcher, Bielefeld University, Germany

Dr Daniel Bergquist, Researcher, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden

Dr Yuri Kazepov, Professor, University of Vienna, Austria

Dr Salvador Pueyo, Researcher, Universitat de Barcelona, Catalonia

Dr Lars Rydén, Professor, Uppsala University, Sweden

Patrick ten Brink, Director of EU Policy, European Environmental Bureau, Belgium

Dr Ebba Lisberg Jensen, Associate Professor, Malmö University, Sweden

Dr Alevgul H. Sorman, Researcher, Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3), Spain

Dr Aram Ziai, Professor, University of Kassel, Germany

Dr Panos Petridis, Researcher, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Austria

Dr Gary Dymski, Professor, University of Leeds, UK

Dr Markus Wissen, Professor, Berlin School of Economics and Law, Germany

Dr Wendy Harcourt, Professor, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University, The Netherlands

Dr John Barrett, Professor, University of Leeds, UK

Dr Silke van Dyk, Professor, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Germany

Dr Vasna Ramasar, Senior Lecturer, Lund University, Sweden

Danijela Tamše, Managing Editor of the Journal for the Critique of Science, Imagination, and New Anthropology, Slovenia

Dr Camil Ungureanu, Associate Professor, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain

Dr Mirela Holy, Lecturer, VERN’ University of Zagreb, Croatia

Press link for more: The Guardian

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