Sustainable economies

Sustainable economies

What are sustainable economies?

The overarching objectives and essential requirements for sustainable economic development include: poverty eradication, changing unsustainable and promoting sustainable patterns of consumption and production, and protecting and managing the natural resource-base of economic and social development.  

In order to achieve sustainable development there must be a focus on promoting sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth, creating greater opportunities for all, reducing inequalities, raising basic standards of living; fostering equitable social development and inclusion; and promoting integrated and sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems that supports inter alia economic, social and human development while  facilitating ecosystem conservation, regeneration and restoration and resilience in the face of new and emerging challenges.

Key questions for this area

If you are teaching or studying in this area, or are looking to add content to your unit, following are some questions that you should be able to answer and/or consider:

  • Are current economies growth patterns sustainable?
  • What are alternative approaches to the current economic system?
  • We are fast running out of the natural resources base such as fossil fuels, water, fish and ecosystem services (waste treatment, soil fertility, climate regulation, storm protection etc) . What is the idea of a sustainable economy in this context that is practical and successful?
  • How relevant is the environmental Kuznets curve in the current context with irreversible environmental degradation?
  • The UN Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012 stated that "We recognize the need for broader measures of progress to complement GDP in order to better inform policy decisions." (Para 38) What are the arguments and basis for revising this measure of progress?
  • Is growth sustainable? What is the basis of the position of OECD countries in arguing for sustainable growth?
  • What are the barriers to a sustainable growth strategy?
  • What is the possibility of compensating for continual and long-term economic growth by dematerialization and steadily increasing eco-efficiency?
  • What is the basis of criticism of the assumptions of the ecological modernization paradigm and the argument that the quest for economic growth in affluent countries should be replaced by policies aiming at zero-growth or even de-growth?

Useful resources

If you are interested in finding out more about this topic, check out our resources for inspiration.

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