In 1972 the Club of Rome published "The Limits to Growth," a landmark global assessment of economic growth and development that galvanized an incipient environmental movement and laid the groundwork for developing a socioeconomic framework supporting the notion of sustainable development.
On Nov. 28, the Club of Rome issued the English version of a new book. Entitled "Reinventing Prospoerity," authors Graeme Maxton and Jorgen Randers propose 13 "radical policy solutions" that address three of the most pressing challenges for industrialized and industrializing countries: inequality, employment and climate change.
Highlighting the gist of the study, Prof. Tim Jackson of the U.K.'s ESRC Center for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP) explained: "Reinventing Prosperity picks up directly from the Club of Rome’s seminal work on the limits to growth. Its message is both radical and pragmatic, offering hope to those left behind in the ‘global race for growth'."
Addressing inequality, unemployment and climate change
"The Limits to Growth" is anchored by the premise that all aspects of the Earth's biosphere - including we humans and all natural resources – interlock to form a dynamic whole. An international Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) research team ran computer simulations and evaluated scenarios based on the five basic, interacting factors - population growth, agricultural production, nonrenewable resource depletion, industrial output and pollution - they determined set boundaries that limit economic growth.
Their conclusion – that the Earth's ecosystems probably could not support economic growth rates prevalent at the time much beyond 2100 – touched off a global debate and controversy that carries on today.
In "Reinventing Prosperity," Maxton and Randers assert that the well-being of most people has not improved despite 30 years of economic growth. As the authors state: "The gap between rich and poor has widened, millions remain without work and real wages in many countries have stagnated or fallen.
In light of this, Randers stated: "Continuing on the current, growth-dominated economic path is not just wrong, but extremely foolish. It will worsen the problems not solve them."
13 policy proposals that can redefine socioecomic growth and development
Rather than relying on prevailing current models of socioeconomic development, Maxton and Randers offer a series of policy proposals to reduce unemployment, inequality and climate change, ESRC explains. These include:
- a new definition of paid work,
- fair taxation on business and resources,
- restrictions on trade when necessary,
- the introduction of a basic income for the poorest third of the population,
- increased paid vacation.
Akin to the "Limits to Growth," "Reinventing Prosperity" challenges the conceptual and institutional frameworks that have supported socioeconomic policy-making and development over the course of the past 30 years. While many political and business leaders have and continue to pay "lip service" to the ideals and goals expressed by Maxton and Randers, their actions belie such assertions.
According to ESRC: "The authors recognize that some of the proposals are radical and will face opposition but remain optimistic about their adoption." However, Maxton added:
"Our suggestions are feasible because they offer immediate benefits to the democratic majority. They not only create a better world in the long run but also provide benefits to most people in the short-term."
*Images credit: "Reinventng Prosperity," Club of Rome