|Enough is Enough|
In June 2010, over 250 activists, experts and interested members of the public gathered to explore a positive alternative to the pursuit of endless economic growth – a steady state economy. The world-changing ideas generated by attendees are synthesised in the Report of the Steady State Economy Conference.
18th November 2010
November 2010 - Dan O’Neill, Rob Dietz, and Nigel Jones (Editors), Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE) and Economic Justice for All (EJfA)
On 19th June 2010, a remarkable group of people came together in the city of Leeds. They met for a unique event: a conference whose purpose was to explore the idea of a steady state economy — an ecologically and socially responsible alternative to economic growth. The conference was organised by two non-profit organisations: Economic Justice for All and CASSE (the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy). Over 250 economists, scientists, NGO members, business leaders, government employees, and interested members of the public attended and contributed.
The conference had two main aims. The first was to raise awareness about the growing body of scientific evidence that shows that economic growth is (a) not environmentally sustainable, and (b) not improving people’s lives in wealthy countries like the UK. The second was to identify specific, implementable policies to achieve a steady state economy in the UK.
Although much has been said over the past few years about the impossibility of endless economic growth, and the social problems associated with its pursuit, far less is known about the alternative, or how it would work. This report, which draws together the many ideas put forward at the conference, is an attempt to contribute to the development of a new “macro-economics for sustainability”. It includes concepts from both the natural and social sciences, as well as ideas about social change. It presents concrete policy proposals in order to put ideas on the table and stimulate further debate about how to build a prosperous, non-growing economy.
The main proposals in this report come from the conference’s ten interactive workshops, which explored specific areas where change is needed to achieve a steady state economy. Each workshop began with a policy proposal from an invited speaker, followed by a facilitated discussion among workshop participants, who were asked to reflect on the following questions:
A key theme that came out of the conference, and one that unites many of the ideas in this report, is the concept of enough. “Enough” is an outwardly unspectacular word with extraordinary properties. It is useful in everyday language, and it is readily understood by most people. For example, a child can easily comprehend a parent’s declaration of “That’s enough.” Neither a complex series of calculations nor a long period of contemplation is required to answer the question, “Is that enough?” A simple “yes” or “no” does the trick.
Even though it is relatively easy to understand the concept of “enough” (we can readily recognise when we’ve had enough to eat or not enough sleep), the word has the peculiar ability to adopt either a positive or a negative connotation. In the positive sense, “getting or having enough” corresponds to feelings of satisfaction, fulfilment and well-being. On the other hand, “Enough!” is an exclamation that comes to mind when we feel upset, overwhelmed or frustrated. The connotation of “enough” is dependent upon just what it is that we’ve had enough of.
It is important to keep this feature of “enough” in mind as we ask the question, “How much is enough?” A growing body of evidence, both scientific and anecdotal, is telling us that we have enough (positive connotation) when it comes to goods and services, and that we’ve had enough (negative connotation) environmental degradation and social dysfunction.
Part One of this report discusses this evidence and summarises the key criticisms of the economic growth model, but it does not explore them in detail. These issues are already covered in many other excellent books, reports, and articles. Part One continues by describing the general characteristics of a steady state economy, a positive alternative to economic growth. The material discussed in this part of the report is largely based on the keynote presentations made at the conference by Peter Victor, Dan O’Neill, and Tim Jackson.
Part Two of the report conveys the findings of the conference’s ten interactive workshops. The material in this part is largely drawn from the proposals made in the workshops, and the discussions that followed. The section summarises many intriguing ideas to build a better economy and investigates approaches to:
Finally, Part Three draws together the themes that emerged from the conference into a blueprint for an economy that is built to last, and discusses a plan to move from ideas to action. The last chapter of the report is inspired by Andrew Simms’ keynote presentation, which emphasised the need for boldness.
The Steady State Economy Conference initiated a long-overdue conversation about the steps we must take to move towards a sustainable economy. The conference generated some world-changing ideas for achieving an economy where the goal is enough instead of more. We invite you to engage with, develop, and take these ideas forward.
|Climate Change & Environment|
|Global Financial Crisis|
|Global Conflicts & Militarization|
|IMF, World Bank & Trade|
|Poverty & Inequality|
|Aid, Debt & Development|
|The UN, People & Politics|
|Food Security & Agriculture|
|Health, Education & Shelter|
|Land, Energy & Water|
|Economic Sharing & Alternatives|