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Prosperity Without Growth – Sustainable Development Commission

April 20, 2009


A couple of weeks ago the Sustainable Development Commission produced it’s report “Prosperity Without Growth” (link here to a thorough online job, including interviews with key people).  On the online consultation area for the report Victor Anderson, a Senior Policy Analyst at the commission, says:

This is probably the most radical report we have ever produced. It tries to get the fundamental question of economic growth on to the political agenda – particularly important at a time when the efforts of most governments assume all we need to do is get back to “business as usual”. Don’t forget that, before the financial crisis hit last Autumn, prices of oil, rice and other basic foods, metals, etc, were all rising very fast – the world economy was already in deep trouble – even before the finance system made it all a lot worse.

In the summary of the report (link to a pdf here), includes thse thoughts that seem explicitly about environmental inequality:

The social logic that locks people into materialistic consumerism is extremely powerful, but detrimental ecologically and psychologically. A lasting prosperity can only be achieved by freeing people from this damaging dynamic and providing creative opportunities for people to flourish – within the ecological limits of the planet. Five policy areas address this challenge.

5. Sharing the available work and improving the work-life balance
6. Tackling systemic inequality
7. Measuring capabilities and flourishing
8. Strengthening human and social capital
9. Reversing the culture of consumerism

Does this help? As Chris Smith, The Chairman of the Environment Agency, says:

it is the poorest who suffer most from environmental degradation, and that is true whether you look around the world or here at home in the UK.  It is the most deprived communities who experience the worst air quality, the proximity to waste repositories, the risk of flooding.  We need to be absolutely rigorous in attending to the needs of these communities

So how might the work of the commission help these people?  How would public bodies or individual public servants act differently in our poorest neghbourhoods to achieve some of the aims mentioned in Properity Without Growth?

Oh, and thanks to the WMRO for mentioning this and the Better Environments, Better Lives conference!

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