In September, Seas At Risk member, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), launched a petition calling on the EU to end its growth dependency. This came in the wake of an open letter from 238 academics, making the same plea, which was published by dozens of media outlets across Europe.

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The academics published their letter the day before a historic meeting in the European Parliament. On 18 and 19 September, eight MEPs from five different political groups organised a successful post-growth conference. The conference was co-organised by the EEB, as part of its efforts to draw attention to the economic transition needed in order to prevent a systemic collapse.

 “Greedy growth doesn’t provide the kind of jobs people want, and it cooks the planet. Greedy growth is pushing our planet and its people into burnout. We need to stop sacrificing the environment and citizens on the altar of GDP growth. The science says that prosperity without growth is possible, but we need political will to make this transition” says Nick Meynen, Policy Officer for Environmental and Economic Justice at the EEB.

The post-growth debate made the headlines in some European countries. In Slovenia, the letter was covered by at least five media sources. In Belgium, it was front page news and was picked up by a dozen other publications, with reactions from the Minister of Finance and the leader of the Green Party, who defended the letter on national TV. The leaders of the ACV (a large Belgian trade union with 1.6 million members) subsequently decided to give their full support to the petition. This demonstrates the reach of the post-growth debate, which concerns everyone from workers to environmentalists. After all, there are no jobs on a dead planet.

Seas At Risk also signed the petition, which calls for an end to growth dependence and asks for four immediate measures to be taken:

  • Transform the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) into a Stability and Wellbeing Pact. The SGP is a set of rules aimed at limiting government deficits and national debt. It should be revised to ensure that Member States meet the basic needs of their citizens while reducing resource use and waste emissions to sustainable levels.
  • Establish a Ministry for Economic Transition in each Member State. A new economy that focuses directly on human and ecological wellbeing could offer a significantly better future than one structurally dependent on economic growth.
  • Form a special commission on Post-Growth Futures in the EU Parliament. This commission should actively debate the issue, devise policy alternatives for post-growth futures and reconsider the pursuit of growth as an overarching policy goal.
  • Prioritise social and environmental indicators. Economic policies should be evaluated in terms of their impact on human wellbeing, resource use, inequality, and the provision of decent work. These indicators should be given higher priority than GDP in decision-making.

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