Becoming a One Planet Economy

The management of the economy is crucial to our chances for moving to a one planet future. Currently, economic decisions are made by governments on the basis of factors such as inflation, production, and unemployment. All these are important – but the environment is getting missed out.

All economies depend on the resources the natural environment provides – the atmosphere, water, the means of growing food, resources such as fuels and metals. Decisions about the economy should reflect this fact – and take into account the finite limits of the planet’s resources.

London skyline

The challenge

The resources consumed in the world’s richer countries, such as the UK, are being used up at a rate the planet cannot sustain for very much longer. Our consumption patterns are having a devastating effect on the atmosphere and climate, and other aspects of the global environment, such as the forests, seas, and endangered species.

This problem will get worse as Western ways of living and consuming spread to more and more people – in China, India, Brazil, and elsewhere amongst developing countries. It is going to be impossible to maintain a situation in which everyone in the world consumes resources in the way we are doing in the West.

We have to find a different way – so that people around the world can share in prosperity and live well, but without the costs to the environment and natural resources that current ways of consuming and managing the economy involve.

This means, above all, greater efficiency – efficiency in the way energy is used in buildings, transport, and production; efficiency in the way resources are used and reused; greater use of renewable resources such as solar energy. Economic policy should be geared towards this aim – which will involve a complete shift in taxation, trade arrangements, and government support for business.

What WWF is doing

We are focusing on three aspects of economic change in particular –

“Measuring What Matters” is about highlighting the indicators that measure what really matters – including the carbon footprint, water footprint, and overall ecological footprint of the economy. We need to consider not only what is produced in the UK, but also what is consumed, including what we import. We have produced a report setting out the environment and resource impacts of UK consumption

We are also playing a leading role in a 2-year, EC-funded project entitled One Planet Economy Network EU (OPEN EU). The project involves research and working with people to explore: “How can the EU become a One Planet Economy by 2050?

“Greening the Recovery” is about using the current economic recession as an opportunity for changing the structure of the economy, so that government support for business gives priority to the development of a much more resource-efficient and low-carbon economy.

“Ecosystem Services” is about explaining, and giving real-world examples of, the general principle that the economy depends on the environment and the services it provides. We need to act positively to protect and restore the things we all depend on – a stable atmosphere, fertile soil, biologically diverse ecosystems – a living planet.

We are also playing an active role in the Green Economy Coalition, an alliance of international environment, development, business and labour organisations pushing for the transition to a sustainable economy at the global level.

Bookmark and Share

OPEN - One Planet Economy Network


Read the latest OPEN report - The new industrial evolution

The New Industrial Evolution - OPEN report

Latest news

Virunga’s future threatened by oil - it’s time to Draw The Line

Virunga National Park, Africa's oldest national park, could be of huge long-term value to local communities - if oil extraction is kept out. That’s the conclusion of the new Dalberg report published today. UK company Soco International plc is intending to explore for oil inside this precious World Heritage Site. That’s why we’ve launched a campaign to Draw The Line, to keep oil exploration out of Virunga National Park.

New school curriculum includes climate change, but not sustainability

Following campaigning by WWF and others, education secretary Michael Gove announced today that climate change will be reinstated in the geography national curriculum at Key Stage 3 (age 11-14) in schools in England. Thanks to all our supporters who wrote to their MPs on this issue – this change in policy is down to you and thousands of people who called for climate change to stay in the curriculum.

Latest blogs

Good transition blogs