Stimulating growth through adjusting macroeconomic conditions remains the principal policy responses to pressing problems of unemployment, poverty and environmental degradation. However, are the current policy approaches capable of tackling these problems by generating win-win solutions or are they the root causes of these problems? The current growth trajectory has neither lead to a reduction of our overall resource use – as we use resources and energy more efficiently we consume more – nor create the conditions for employment and well-being.
Increasingly, there is the realization that it is necessary to make substantial interventions into our national economies and create better framework conditions and incentive systems in order to more widely and rapidly develop and disseminate workable, innovative solutions for realizing sustainable development. This is the task of politics, and the concrete design of the measures must be built upon a broad public debate and shared long-term visions.
The authors of this book intend to trigger a dialogue among stakeholders about how we can shape this transformation process towards sustainability. Following a detailed presentation of the key arguments for reconsidering the necessary conditions for sustainable economies, an international cast of commentators from politics, administration, civil society, business and science engage with the central question: is there an alternative trajectory for Western economies that sustains wellbeing whilst confronting ecological and social breakdown?
Dr. Friedrich Hinterberger is founding president of the Sustainable Europe Research Institute (SERI) in Vienna, Austria. Earlier he worked at the Wuppertal Institute in Germany and was lecturer at several universities. Elisabeth Freytag is Director for EU-affairs in the Austrian Ministry for Agriculture and Forestry, Environment and Water Management Elke Pirgmaier is a Researcher at SERI, focussing on ecological macroeconomics, policy and quality of life research. Martina Schuster is head of the Department for Environmental Economics and Energy policy in the Austrian Federal Ministry of the Environment.