Our economy depends on the things nature provides – from food and raw materials to clean water and a stable climate. But richer countries like the UK are consuming resources in a way the planet simply can’t sustain, and the problem will only get worse as countries like China, India and Brazil follow in our footprints.
Already our lifestyles are having a devastating impact – on the climate, water, oceans, forests and species. It’s simply impossible to maintain a situation in which everyone in the world consumes resources in the way we're 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 destroying the natural environment we all ultimately rely on. That'll require a transformation in economic policies – from taxation and trade arrangements, to government subsidies and support, to the way we measure economic success.
We’re focusing on three aspects of economic change in particular:
Measuring What Matters looks at true indicators of progress, instead of narrow financial measures. These include the carbon footprint, water footprint and overall ecological footprint of the economy, including the impact our consumption in the UK has overseas.
Greening the Recovery aims to use the recent recession as an opportunity for developing a much more resource-efficient and low-carbon economy.
Ecosystem Services is about raising understanding of the ways that the economy depends on the environment and the services it provides.
But we’re not just working in the UK. We’re closely involved in One Planet Economy Network EU (OPEN EU), a two-year project looking at how the EU can become a “one planet economy” by 2050. And we play an active role in the Green Economy Coalition, an alliance of international organisations pushing for the transition to a sustainable economy at the global level.