Degrowth, steady state economics and the circular economy

Missing Points in the Development Dialogue

Degrowth, steady state economics and the circular economy: three distinct yet increasingly converging alternative discourses to economic growth for achieving environmental sustainability and social equity

Criticisms of the neoclassical economic framework and perpetual growth in GDP terms are not a new phenomenon, although recent years have seen increasing interest in alternative and ecological discourses including degrowth, steady state and circular economics. Although these may initially appear as distinctly different discourses, they are highly compatible and comparable, sharing similar, often nearly identical principles and policy proposals. A more collaborative, joined-up approach aimed at integrating alternative discourses is required in order to build a coherent, credible, well-supported alternative, as there is more uniting than dividing these critical voices, particularly in the face of mainstream political and economic debates that are shaped by neoclassical economics.




Business leaders and governments alike are acknowledging that continued long-term value creation requires a new economic model that is less dependent on cheap, easily accessible materials and energy, and that is able to restore and regenerate natural capital. In its research to date, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has demonstrated that the circular economy is a clear value creation opportunity. As many policymakers become interested in this promising model, they envisage the important role they can play in creating the right enabling conditions and, as appropriate, setting direction to unlock it.

   * Full text of Executive Summary from  Ellen MacArthur Foundation

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