Can our economy grow forever? #rethinkingthesystem



In last summer’s ReGeneration Week, hundreds of young people from around the Nordic and Baltic Sea region got together to make our voices heard on the climate crisis. We collectively wrote a Declaration listing what must be done to achieve sustainability in the short time frame necessary. In this series, ReGeneration 2030 volunteer Ugnė explores each of the seven articles of the Declaration.


There is a very clear reason why we live in the middle of a climate crisis: our current high-consumption economic system has led us up to this point. Now, we must choose whether we want to continue living in a system that is leading us to self-destruction or agree to be bold and make fundamental changes that could help us save the planet.


Every year our global economy uses up 1,8 times more natural resources than the Earth can produce in the same period. Worse, most of those resources end up as waste after only being used once – in the EU, only 12,8 percent of used materials are recycled and fed back into the economy. In an economic system based on infinite growth, resource depletion like this is only going to keep increasing. We simply cannot have infinite growth on a finite planet.


Who benefits from this economic system? Currently, businesses who produce enormous amounts of emissions are rewarded with profit without enduring the material consequences. In fact, the current economic system gives them the right to do so: businesses can sue governments for taking action on cutting emissions if it has a negative impact on their profits. We have to find alternative ways to ensure sustainable development.


We must find courage for big changes. We do not have the privilege to wait for businesses to reach the end of natural resources. But decision-makers are incentivised to prioritise short-termed economic gain instead of sustainable development: so it is up to us to put pressure on them to start the change now. That’s why we need to make wise political choices and have leaders who could be bold and initiate fundamental changes.


We must admit that an economic system built on endless growth and profit is not sustainable. We have a clear common goal to save the planet and for that, we need collaborative action from businesses, policymakers, and society.


We need to rethink our current economic system while it’s not too late.