There is a misunderstanding. We thought growth was about having and producing more, about improving quality of life. What happened? The concept of growth didn’t really take into account the whole life cycle of products and services we created and consumed. Without the internalization of current negative externalities we won’t be able to understand what growth really is, therefore not being able to grow at all.
As Bruno Oberle, Director of the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), said today, we must make a sustained effort to rethink and redefine aditional measures of well-being. We must try to find other indicators besides the GDP in order to reflect the development of the economy. Mr. Oberle highlighted the importance of availability of information for consumers: only if they are informed will they be able to decide and rethink their actual consumption patterns. According to the UN, if current population and consumption trends continue, we will need the equivalent of at least two Earths to support our consumption level by 2030.
Because we only have one planet Earth where we are able to live in, if rational, we have no other option but taking care of it. The increase in human population and consumption of resources can’t go forever. We must reduce our ecological footprint, so the resources we consume and the waste we generate are less than the ability of nature to generate new resources and absorbe our waste.
It is not about impeding growth, if growth is correctly defined. Our development must be guided by “Green Growth”, where all the negative and positive externalities of our actions are internalized all over the World.
I hope to learn during the next two days what the concept of Green Growth exactly is and how it is applied.
In the meantime, there is a lot of information on greengrowth.org and on the OECD website. The short summary “Environmentally sustainable economic growth for the well-being of all” leaves me hopeful for today. Maybe there will be a clear roadmap at the end of the conference.