Four plans to thrive within limits
The predominant economic system has become addicted to GDP growth at all costs and has lost sight of the larger goal of sustainable wellbeing. It needs to be fundamentally transformed into a wellbeing economy that is aimed at achieving sustainable wellbeing, rather than growth of GDP, with dignity and fairness, for humans and the rest of nature. A wellbeing economy recognizes that the economy is embedded in society and the rest of nature and that true freedom and success depend on creating a world where we all prosper and flourish. Getting there requires that all institutions and society pursue a new purpose: shared wellbeing on a healthy planet.
A major transformation of our economy is needed. This transformation is why the Wellbeing Economies Alliance (WEAll) was created: to bring it about.
A steady state economy is an economy of stable or mildly fluctuating size. The term typically refers to a national economy, but it can also be applied to a local, regional, or global economy. An economy can reach a steady state after a period of growth or after a period of downsizing or degrowth. To be sustainable, a steady state economy may not exceed ecological limits.
A steady state economy entails stabilized population and per capita consumption. Birth rates equal death rates, and production rates equal depreciation rates. Minimizing waste allows for a steady state economy at higher levels of production and consumption.
All else equal, the steady state economy is indicated by stabilized (or mildly fluctuating) gross domestic product (GDP). GDP is not a good indicator of well-being, but is a solid indicator of economic activity and environmental impact.
Sustainable degrowth is a downscaling of production and consumption that increases human well-being and enhances ecological conditions and equity on the planet. It calls for a future where societies live within their ecological means, with open, localized economies and resources more equally distributed through new forms of democratic institutions. Such societies will no longer have to “grow or die.” Material accumulation will no longer hold a prime position in the population’s cultural imaginary. The primacy of efficiency will be substituted by a focus on sufficiency, and innovation will no longer focus on technology for technology’s sake but will concentrate on new social and technical arrangements that will enable us to live convivially and frugally. Degrowth does not only challenge the centrality of GDP as an overarching policy objective but proposes a framework for transformation to a lower and sustainable level of production and consumption, a shrinking of the economic system to leave more space for human cooperation and ecosystems.
Ecosocialism is a vision of a transformed society in harmony with nature, and the development of practices that can attain it. It is directed toward alternatives to all socially and ecologically destructive systems, such as patriarchy, racism, homophobia and the fossil-fuel based economy. It is based on a perspective that regards other species and natural ecosystems as valuable in themselves and as partners in a common destiny.