The University of the West of Scotland was the setting for the UK launch of the new report to the sustainability-focused global think tank, The Club of Rome, at an event at the University’s Paisley Campus on 25 November 2016.
The event saw report co-author, and Secretary General of the Club, Graeme Maxton address the key themes in the report, entitled ‘Reinventing Prosperity: Managing economic growth to reduce unemployment, inequality and climate change’.
The event was hosted by the Policy Forum of the UWS-Oxfam Partnership and filmed.
Professor Chik Collins of the School of Media, Culture and Society said: “In 1972 the first Club of Rome report, The Limits to Growth, was published. Since then it has sold more than 16 million copies and been translated into over 30 languages, making it the best-selling environmental book ever. The Report’s message still holds today: The earth’s interlocking resources – the global system of nature in which we all live – cannot survive endless growth in the human ecological footprint, even with advanced technology. In fact, on current trends, a deep crisis is predicted within 20 to 30 years – and there are growing signs that it has already begun.
The new report offers what its authors, Maxton and Jorgen Randers, one of the co-authors of the original Limits to Growth report, see as politically feasible proposals to improve the world. From shortening the work year and raising the retirement age to boosting welfare and redefining what we mean by ‘work’, the authors’ suggestions challenge many long-standing economic ideas and seek to explain how it may be possible to reduce unemployment, inequality, and the pace of climate change—and still have economic growth, if society wishes.
The event saw participants from a wide range of organisations, including the Scottish Government, local authorities, the NHS, further and higher education and the voluntary sector, as well as UWS academics and students and campaigners from Oxfam, come together to reflect on what needs to be done, and can be done, in Scotland.
Maxton provided a profound lecture to a packed audience, highlighting how the model of economic development which has been dominant over the past thirty years has created huge problems of inequality, unemployment and climate change, and how those problems point towards social and economic breakdown and climate catastrophe. Yet, he pointed out, it is still possible to implement measures which can benefit most of the world’s population in the short term, and ward off the worst of the problems in the long-term. Outlining the thirteen policy proposals contained in the book, Maxton called for those present to become agents of the changes that are required. He also highlighted the leading role that universities such as UWS, embedded in their local communities, but with strong national and international connections, can play in that process.
Professor Ehsan Mesbahi, Vice Principal & Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research & Enterprise), said: “We are delighted to have hosted this event at our Paisley Campus. UWS has designated sustainability as one of its three key research and enterprise themes for the years ahead, and there was no better way to mark that than to welcome the Club of Rome to our Paisley Campus.”