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growth always goes together with using more

energy and more resources – if we include the

environmental impact of the production that

moved to the East. Whilst we are getting more

efficient and now produce cars that use less

energy than 20 years ago, as we are producing

more cars, our overall impact on the

environment is still growing. It is not because

we are buying a lot of stuff from China; we are

not responsible for the environmental impact of

that production.

“We really have to look into how much and

what kind of growth we need. Do we need more

cars on the road or more bikes? Do people

need more time to care for other citizens, or do

they have to work harder for more buying

power? These fundamental questions should

be the basis for our actual debate on the future

of the economy.

“There is no dogma that says fulfilling your

needs can only take place with buying power

in the marketplace. If we share things and take

care of other people, we can have a good life,

even without this magic economic growth. If

you consider other indicators, for instance the

indicator of sustainable economic welfare, they

show that a lot of Western countries saw GDP

growth increase during the 1980s and 1990s,

I S S U E S E V E N

H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L

www.horizon2020projects.com

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S O C I E TA L C H A L L E N G E S : C L I M AT E A C T I O N

If you are connecting together and using a car sharing scheme or sharing

equipment, you are developing resilience.

“If you are growing your own food in a city, you are becoming more

resilient. This is a so-called ‘small counter current’, building local

resilience. It’s a growing movement and is very important.”

Innovation

With citizens helping to provide a lead, Holemans commented that

the European Commission should direct greater funding towards new

innovations rather than continuing to invest in current knowledge

and developments.

“If we want to do more on biodiversity, we have to look at all the different

domains, especially innovation and the economy. The Commission has

to give more money to alternative concepts – real radical new ways of

production. To give one example in the food domain, there is a lot of

money going into biotechnology, creating genetically modified crops. Yet

there is little funding going to the promising ecological development

called agro-ecology, which focuses on integrating biodiversity protection

and good agricultural production. This hardly gets any money.

“We are spending a lot of money refurbishing old innovation, and we

should put our money into new innovations that really want to connect

economy, production, and Nature conservation.”

Economic impact

Holemans then told Portal that there needs to be a new critical view on

economic growth and posed the question of whether actual growth is

leading to a better quality of life: “Economic growth, as we know it, is

measured by the products we use, yet if we look at the data, economic

More funds need to be

diverted to protecting

biodiversity,

commented Holemans

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