Growing pains:can the politics of sustainability survive the economic downturn?
- 24th September 2012, 01:00PM
- Surrey room 1, Hilton Metropole, Brighton
This event will seek to question the conventional wisdom that the current economic downturn will damage the move towards a more sustainable economy. We hope it will question whether the recession has to be bad for the planet and the poor or whether we can turn a crisis into an opportunity, to recalibrate our thinking of economic development and achieve ‘good growth’.
Speakers will include:
- Duncan Hames MP, PPS to Deputy Prime Minisiter Nick Clegg MP
- Sharon Bowles MEP, Member of the European Parliament for South East England, Chair of the EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee
- Phil Bloomer, Director of Campaigns, Oxfam
- David Nussbaum, CEO, WWF (chair)
- Mark Potter, Head of Renewable Energy, RSA Insurance
As the global economy falters, commentators have questioned whether the economic downturn will put an end to the politics of sustainability. On the face of things, the signs do not appear promising. Aid budgets are falling globally (with the UK as a notable exception) and international climate negotiations remain deadlocked. Meanwhile, in the UK the Environmental Audit Committee has criticised the Government’s approach to a green economy claiming it lacks a long-term vision and represents a missed opportunity to show global leadership in the run-up to the Rio Summit.
But the politics of sustainability are no luxury. While scientists tell us we are already living beyond the means of our finite planet, there are still 1.3 billion people living in absolute poverty, on less than $1.25 per day. Our economies must respond to the challenge of meeting people’s basic needs whilst preserving the planet.
There are optimistic signs that government and business recognise that economic recovery must have both poverty reduction and environmental protection at their heart. The Prime Minister has been announced as a co-chair of the UN Secretary General’s panel to look at development post 2015, and it is widely acknowledged that any new global goals will have to incorporate both poverty reduction and environmental sustainability. Meanwhile domestically the launch of the Natural Environment White Paper is a move towards understanding formally the value of nature, and is coupled with an increasing interest in measuring wellbeing or “happiness”. Both are elements towards developing a broader understanding of economic development beyond GDP.
There is also potential for new industries, such as the renewable energy sector, to come to the fore as the powerhouse for the next generation of manufacturing. The United Nations Energy Programme predicts that by 2030 there will be an additional 6.3 million jobs in solar and 2.1 million jobs in wind energy worldwide. This type and scale of investment can transform previously declining industrial areas into thriving renewable support centres.
On a global scale, such new ways of thinking could provide the basis of a new sustainable economic development model which allows for both human wellbeing and the preservation of our planet. The key question is: what does good growth look like and how can we achieve it?
This event will take place on Monday 24th September at 13:00-14:30 in Surrey 1, Hilton Metropole, Brighton.
For more information please email email@example.com