The Club of Rome calls on EU to adopt wellbeing economics instead of growth at all costs

15 September 2021 – The global pandemic that has been ravaging the world for the past two years has brought about unprecedented change, but also presents valuable opportunities for building back a more resilient and sustainable world. The Club of Rome calls on the European Commission to take the lead in designing new policies that go beyond a rigid focus on GDP growth, towards a focus on the wellbeing of people and the planet.

As the ongoing COVID19-pandemic continues to strain global health systems, it is also revealing the limits of a model that values wealth above wellbeing and growth at all costs. Combined with the fact that we are well on our way to exceeding the Earth’s planetary boundaries, it is clear that there needs to be a step change towards transformational economic models that move beyond GDP and embrace broader social, environmental and economic indicators.

As part of its Economic Recovery, Renewal and Resilience Series, the Club of Rome have published two reports in which the authors examine what the current global situation means for Europe at large post-COVID, and whether existing institutions and governments can anchor transformational economics in current European value systems, economic foundations and in European and international alliances. The reports highlight that in many respects, Europe is already well positioned to make this crucial shift, but goes further by articulating the central arguments necessary for political consensus around moving the transformation forward.

“Post-COVID, we need to build forward a more resilient world, able to deal with unavoidable shocks. To do so, action should be anchored in the Treaty on European Union, the European Commission’s Strategic Foresight Dashboards, and the European Green Deal. Our reports outline the policy anchors for renewing Europe’s social and economic paradigm,” states Sandrine Dixson-Declève, Co-President of the Club of Rome.

The reports offer a series of policy recommendations that can be implemented right away to enhance short-term economic shifts in the COVID-recovery phase. The recommendations focus on four key short-term levers that will enable longer-term economic transformation and systems change namely:

  • Healthy people within a healthy Europe, which centres around situating wellbeing, health and climate policies at the heart of the EU’s financial planning structures with spending and allocation of resources geared towards improved health and wellbeing, emissions reductions and the regeneration of nature, starting with the implementation of the European Green Deal.
  • Public and private investment, with a focus on issues such as aligning EU Member State funding to the EU’s Green Deal, the Sustainable Finance Taxonomy and applying “Do No Significant Harm” principles to help support the transition to a more equitable low carbon and circular economy.
  • Fair income and work, which advocates for, among others, ensuring that fair work principles are promoted and supported across EU funding programmes, business support and public contracts.
  • Subsidies and taxation. Recommendations in this section include shifting taxation from labour to the use of all natural resources, ending perverse fossil fuels and agriculture subsidies and shifting EU funds to largescale health and low carbon infrastructure and services.

The authors however note that all these issues must be addressed alongside learnings from COVID to date, as well as the urgency of action in the face of climate change and biodiversity loss. In addition, the European Commission can and should set the tone for future policy and the transformation needed, but getting buy-in from EU Member States and citizens will be crucial in achieving such an ambitious transformation. Solidarity and a give-and-take approach are the only way forward towards strengthening green and social-economic resilience. This gives further weight to the findings in the European Commission Economic Forecast 2021that strong leadership from the European Commission will be crucial in strengthening the recovery and resilience of the EU economy.

“Now is not the time to create more and different plans, it is time to stick to the plan. We have most of the new foundational economic thinking to build on. We know what we need to do. The question is how to do it. What we need are better tools and levers to turn this thinking into action. This action should be anchored in the EU’s own constitution and new Green Deal; in transformative economic science; and in alliances underway regionally. These anchors hold the key to the policy that needs to be agreed and implemented within this decade if the European Commission is to show leadership and help steer the world away from irrevocable planetary disaster,” Dixson-Declève concludes.

Read the full reports here:
21st Century Wellbeing Economics: The Road to Recovery, Renewal and Resilience
Anchoring Transformation: Policy Anchors for Ensuring a new European Social-Economic Paradigm

For more information contact:

Till Kellerhoff
Program Manager
T: +49 151 184 26367
E: tkellerhoff@clubofrome.org
Philippa Baumgartner
Head of Communications
T: +43 664 414 4456
E: pbaumgartner@clubofrome.org

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