State of the World 2012: The road to Sustainable prosperity

A Living Economy Seminar, 5th June 2012, European Parliament

by Eirini Glyki

In order to celebrate the UN World Environment Day on the 5th of June and in light of the forthcoming Global Earth Summit Rio+20, Worldwatch Instute Europe was invited by the Greek Green MEP Nikos Chrysogelos, to conduct a Living Economy seminar at the European Parliament premises.

The seminar included presentations of the Worldwatch Institute publication, State of the World 2012 and the recent european research of environmental challenges conducted by Worldwatch Institute Europe, Voices from Europe: Build a Living Economy. The productive discussion focused on the key parameters underlining the dynamics of the way society is organised, possible solutions for global environmental and social issues and the concept of sustainable prosperity.

Bo Normander, the director of Worldwatch Institute Europe, discussed the social and environmental inequalities exacerbated worldwide by the unsustainable development models followed in past decades. He presented State of the World 2012, commenting on the failure of existing development patterns and the impacts these have had on the current state of the world. Bo emphasized the need for the adoption of policies promoting green economics and focusing on selective degrowth of specific productive sectors. Additionally he commented on the need for a cultural change in the forms of change in consumption patterns as well as a reduction in working hours in order to enhance employment patterns.

Worldwatch Institute Europe Researcher, Eirini Glyki, presented the European survey of Environmental Challenges: Voices from Europe. She discussed the attitudes and perceptions of european stakeholders - businesses, NGOs, intellectuals and opinion leaders - towards the most important global environmental challenges. Eirini emphasized that europeans seem to be pessimistic about the outcome of Rio+20 and pointed out that political leaders must show more concrete actions and decisions on common policies in order for the global summit to be a stepping stone in the road towards environmental and social sustainability. The presentation concluded with recommendations and messages from the european society to world leaders who will participate at the Rio+20 Global Summit.

Alexandra Hayles, Senior Researcher at Worldwatch Institute Europe, presented the good examples from Europe in Beyond Enterprise: Emerging Cooperatives. She discussed the development of collaborative and cooperative enterprises in various sectors of european industries. Alexandra commented on the annual worldwide revenue of social cooperatives, which exceeds 1.6 trillion euros, and mentioned that the most developed cooperatives sectors are agriculture and bank credit. Alexandra also presented specific examples of exchange economy models and community supported agriculture in european cities.

Nikos Chrysogelos, host of the event, warned in his closing remarks not to forget that the current global crisis is not only fiscal and economic but also ecological and social. He emphasized that a shift to a green economy and the adoption of ecologically and socially sustainable production and consumption models are key tools for exiting this multidimensional global crisis.

Summarizing the conclusions of the event, the Finish Green MEP and member of Worldwatch Institute Europe's board, Satu Hassi, called for an immediate focus on social innovation and a fundamental redefinition of institutions, values, ​​and policies in order for Europe to emerge stronger from the current crisis.

The video of the event is available here