“Sustainable development is a development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.

The way in which this goal can be achieved is by using the following guidelines:

– The replacement rate for consumption of non-renewable resources is essential.

– The same applies to the renewal rate for consumption of renewable resources.

– Conservation of biodiversity is essential.

– And more equal redistribution of the surplus should also be guaranteed.

This concept implies that we need to change our lifestyles, according to a philosophy of declining growth, and even shrinking. The brake put on the car is not enough, we must reverse to avoid the abyss. We must find the way to a healthy economy based on renewable energy sources (solar, wind, biomass and hydropower).

If we accept this, the implications would be the following:

– The end of the air transport. Combustion vehicles should be replaced by sailboats, bicycles, trains and animal traction.

– Supermarkets should disappear, they should be replaced by convenience stores and local markets.

– Cheap imports should be replaced with reusable containers.

– Would be the end of the intensive agriculture. Traditional agriculture must come back with the small farm.

– A largely vegetarian diet will have to replace the consumption of meat.

This means a market which is in the hands of political as well as consumers, which is controlled by both. An economy in which a concentration of duties (customs duties, franchises) should be avoided and that an incentive for crafts stays central in the agenda. Traders and shopkeepers are owners and decide on their own activities. This means an economy of the human dimension, which sets itself the goal to protect the environment, and especially to restore social justice.

A shrinking economy focuses on production and reproduction of value and happiness in human society, through alternative technologies. Ultimately, this implies a radical change in the way we produce, consume and live, it is a new form of social and economic organization. It is a society in which cooperation and altruism take precedence over competition and selfishness, in which the concepts of poverty and scarcity have a different meaning.

Again, the economic structures must be adapted to the human dimension, and a redistribution must come from the access to natural resources and wealth.

The consumption of resources and goods, which is a major burden on the environment, should be limited. The use of durable goods should be promoted and these goods must be long lasting, and can be repaired and reused. This would mean a shift to frugality and temperance, and to cuts in consumption of consumer goods.

It is an alternative philosophy or wisdom, which holds that the good and happiness can be obtained with a lower economic and environmental cost. It is based on the possession of the minimum necessary, and the realization that less material possessions can mean just growth on the relational, social and spiritual level, and can generate more hospitality and friendliness.

All this marks the importance of environmental sustainability and social justice, and profound changes in the cultural fabric of our society.

If we want to realize this utopia, it can only be achieved through an economy of contraction, we must do everything to realize this shrinkage, because it is the only way we can avoid the path that leads us to hell (i.e. pollution).


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