Place of the EU Parliament.

Post-Growth conference debates the economy of the future

This week the European Parliament played host to international experts to discuss “Post-Growth”, a concept that challenges the use of growth as the primary goal of the economy.

Around 500 people gathered in Brussels on 18-19 September to hear from leaders in the field and debate the ideas surrounding Post-Growth as an economic model.

Patrick ten Brink, EEB Director of EU Policy, said:

“Citizens’ wellbeing depends on the health of our planet and the state of nature. It’s time to refocus what we measure to reflect what we value and to refocus policies towards what really matters.”

For many, this means rethinking what prosperity means. Post-Growth uses human wellbeing and environmental health as measures of our richness over Gross Domestic Product.

Such a model is a far cry from the world economy’s growth-centred model.

Patrick ten Brink speaks at the “Beyond GDP Growth” debate on Wednesday.

At the Beyond GDP Growth debate on Wednesday Joost Korte, Director General at the EU Department of Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion, admitted:

“GDP growth is indeed a very limited concept. But we are working hard on the SDGs and the European pillar of social rights.”

To this Efi Achtsióglou, Greek Minister of Labour, responded:

“You say growth is just one of your goals and talk about the social pillar but the commission asks us to dismantle labour rights in order to grow”.

Efi Achtsióglou, Greek Minister of Labour, speaks at “Beyond GDP Growth” debate on Wednesday.

Patrizia Heidegger, EEB Director of Global Policies and Sustainability, sat on the panel for the “Trade and Environment” debate on Wednesday afternoon. She said:

“The exponential growth of global trade over the last decades is a major driver of greenhouse gas emissions and resource depletion.

European trade policy needs a completely new vision. The objective of trade agreements should not be to boost global trade volumes, but needs to be fully aligned with environmental and social goals, in particular the Sustainable Development Goals and our need to reduce resource use in absolute terms.

We do not need more trade, but better trade.”

Patrizia Heidegger speaks at the “Trade and Environment” debate on Wednesday.

See how the debate unfolded on Twitter:

Earlier this week, 238 academics signed an open letter to the EU calling for a move away from the focus on GDP.

So far over 3500 people have signed the petition backing the sentiments of the letter.