A green economy is not an end in itself. Rather, […] it is a means towards a shared and lasting prosperity. But what exactly does prosperity mean? We propose a definition of prosperity in terms of the capabilities that people have to flourish on a finite planet. It is clear that a part of our prosperity depends on material goods and services. Living well clearly means achieving basic levels of material security. But prosperity also has important social and psychological components. Our ability to participate in the life of society is vital. Meaningful employment, satisfying leisure, and a healthy environment also matter. […] Thriving communities are the basis of shared prosperity. — Tim Jackson and Peter A. Victor (2013: 6)
In 2009, Professor Tim Jackson catalysed a step-change in the conversation about the ‘growth imperative’ that is structurally built into our economic system. In a report for the UK Sustainable Development Commission, Jackson dared to name the elephant in the room by asking whether “prosperity without growth” was a possibility, stating clearly why ‘business as usual’ was no longer an option (Jackson, 2009a).
[This is an excerpt of a subchapter from Designing Regenerative Cultures, published by Triarchy Press, 2016.]
The report showed that while the global economy has more than doubled in size in the last 25 years, it has severely degraded more than 60% of the world’s ecosystems without delivering a more equitable sharing of wealth. To the contrary, inequality has grown both within and between nations. We live in a world with 5 billion poor and the bottom fifth of the world’s population have to make do with just 2% of global income. According to a Credit Suisse report, the richest 1% of people now own more than half of the world’s financial wealth (Treanor, 2014). This extreme inequality drives a series of devastating chain reactions, affecting health, community cohesion, national and international security, and the environment.