French Greens support “Degrowth” and happiness movement Reply

In a long interview published in Le Monde, a prominent Green politician in France clarified the position of his party — which holds two ministerial posts in the new government of President François Hollande — on the subject of growth.

Interviewer: What is the position of Europe Ecology-The Greens on degrowth?

Jean-Vincent Placé: We are for the degrowth of polluting and energy-devouring industries, intensive agriculture, air and road transportation, and if we are for growth, it is the growth of happiness!

[Original Q&A for French speakers – Q: Quelle est la position d’EELV sur la décroissance? A: Nous sommes pour la décroissance des industries polluantes et énergivores, de l’agriculture intensive ou du transport aérien et routier, et si nous sommes pour la croissance, c’est la croissance du bonheur !]

Jean-Vincent Placé is a French Senator representing Essone (the southern part of the Paris metropolitan area) and president of the first group of green parliamentarians in France.

Le Monde, 25 June 2012


New measure of prosperity for Scotland: Oxfam Humankind Index Reply

Oxfam, the UK’s leading aid and development charity, has launched a new index for measuring quality of life and social justice in Scotland – the Oxfam Humankind Index (HMI). The index, developed by the Oxfam’s Scotland Office, is largely based on information from public consultations and surveys with a particular focus on seldom heard groups such as African refugee women, young people living in poverty in rural areas or people with learning disabilities.

Oxfam worked in partnership with the New Economics Foundation, who processed the compiled information from the public consultations to produce a series of weighted priorities set for Scotland by the people of Scotland. The index consists of 18 measures in five domains (Social, Human, Nature & Environment, Financial, Physical Resources) ranging from good family relationships, having secure and satisfying work, a decent home, good local facilities and transport to access to green areas.

Judith Robertson, the head of Oxfam Scotland, said the index “goes beyond simplistic economic measures like GDP. It reminds us that the economy should serve its people, not the other way around.”

The first assessment of Scotland’s performance using HMI showed that the country’s overall prosperity increased by 1.2% between 2007-08 and 2009-10, largely due to improvements in how people felt about their health and community spirit.

HMI is now being considered also by senior Oxfam executives for use across the UK and as part of the charity’s work on sustainable living and on new measures of inequality, as well as by Oxfam offices overseas in “middle economy” countries such as Brazil. The charity is also  encouraging local and national government to examine these results in order to plan and prioritize their future actions.

Link: Oxfam Humankind Index (HMI), Guardian article about HMI

EC opens a €34.8 million call for eco-innovation projects Reply

The European Commission has opened a call for eco-innovation projects for businesses and entrepreneurs from across Europe to help bring novel environmental projects to the market. The €34.8 million funding will support eco-innovative products, techniques, services and processes that aim to prevent or reduce environmental impacts, or which contribute to the optimal use of resources. The five main priority areas for this year include: materials recycling, water, sustainable building products, green business and the food and drink sector. Around 50 projects will be selected for funding and interested parties can apply until  6 September 2012.

Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment, highlighted that this programme “shows  how businesses can help our economies to grow in an environmentally sustainable way, once they have the right support.” There are already nearly 200 projects being set up or underway from past funding calls and include schemes such as converting old discarded TVs into tiles, new waste sorting mechanisms, innovative eco- packaging for milk, and a new technique for recycling textiles.

Link: EC press release

EESC’s Opinion on GDP and beyond Reply

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has recently produced an own-initiative Opinion document on “GDP and beyond – the involvement of civil society in choosing complementary indicators.”

The document reports that the EESC recognizes the advances made in recent years in devising complementary indicators to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), at both world and European levels. However, it is stressed that, in the view of the EESC, the process leading to a new definition of well-being and progress of societies – beyond economic growth alone – cannot be separated from current European policies to tackle the renewed impact of the economic and financial crisis. At present, there is a wide gap between economic policies and policies for well-being and societal progress at both national and European level, but the authors see a possibility of narrowing this gap in connection with the adoption of indicators complementary to GDP by official statistical services.

The EESC proposes that there needs to be a thorough debate on the fundamental meaning of progress and the concept of development, and any decisions have to be based on contributions from the civil society. The Committee also emphasizes its willingness to act as a meeting place between organized civil society and official European bodies as part of a participatory decision-making process to identify and design indicators of progress for  the European Union.


Beyond GDP (EU 2007 conference website) Reply

This is the principal website of the European Union’s project/conference on developing indicators that are “as clear and appealing as GDP, but more inclusive of environmental and social aspects of progress.” The initial conference — held in 2007 and co-sponsored by the European Commission, European Parliament, Club of Rome, OECD and WWF — was a landmark that helped pave the way for much that came later. However, the website seems to have been stopped being updated in Oct 2011. This legacy site contains info on indicators (GDP, Enlarged GDP, Social indicators, Environmental indicators, Wellbeing), relevant news [until Oct 2011], resource documents, the documentation of the conference, and many good links to other initiatives/organisations etc.