The world is consuming products at an ever accelerating pace. We are extracting, producing, selling, buying, using, and throwing away like never before in history. Where are we heading? What will our society, economy, and financial sector look like in 25 years? Economist Tim Jackson, author of the book Prosperity Without Growth – Economics for a finite planet (2009) states that unlimited growth is out of question. Jackson explained his ideas at the celebration of 20 years sustainable Triodos Bank.

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Triodos Bank is is one of the world’s leading sustainable banks. For its 20th anniversary it invited Tim Jackson, professor of economy at the University of Surrey. His book Prosperity without growth was translated in 16 languages. Jackson starts with stating that prosperity transcends material concerns and that beyond a certain point growth does not increase human well-being.

Current economy serves individual pleasure

From Jackson’s keynote lecture we remember that the current economy is characterised by:

1. Speculation: ‘casino economy’
2. Consumer lending: mortgages, unsecured lendings
3. ‘Real’ investment: short-term-ist, rent-seeking chasing productivity bubbles, depleting resources…

…and that economists believe that the economic system is there to create individual pleasure:

 “Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfactions, our ego satisfactions, in consumption…. We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced, and discarded at an ever increasing pace”

…but this system has definitely failed.

Green economy with social and ecological benifits

Jackson believes in a green economy with the following dimensions:

  • Enterprise: employment rich, providing services that matter to society (e.g. health care), resource light
  • Employment: skill and service-oriented, reduced working time
  • Investment: ecological and social projects, slow patient capital
  • Money: appropriate institutions, sector balances, green money supply

In order to install a green economy, it is necessary that the government facilitates this transition, since historically the government has been supporting and encouraging a materialistic and individualistic consumerism.

Watch Tim Jackson’s lecture (in English) in Brussels (source: Triodos Bank):

For a more in depth analysis read his book Prosperity Without Growth – Economics for a finite planet (2009).

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