"From Green Growth towards a Sustainable Economy?"

25 - 26 March 2010, Madrid, Spain

The 5th ESDN Workshop took place on 25-26 March 2010 in Madrid, Spain. The workshop was entitled "From Green Growth towards a Sustainable Economy?"

For the past two centuries, economic growth has been the engine of modern societies, markets have become their central organizing principle and GDP has been used as the main measuring instrument of economic activities. The ‘limits to growth’ approach in the early 1970s and the sustainable development (SD) discourse over the last two decades, have put an exclusive orientation towards traditional growth into question. The recent financial and economic crisis has mainstreamed this discussion and fostered a very intensive debate among policy-makers, researchers and the media about the future of our economic systems and which kind of growth should be promoted. Due to the fact that SD has become a guiding policy objective on the different political levels and that the challenges to tackle climate change receive broad attention, much of the current debate centres around how to link SD and growth as well as how growth can be reoriented to better address environmental and social issues. Linking SD and growth has been addressed by the UN (Green Economy Initiative) and the OECD (Green Growth Declaration) as well as by the EU (“EU 2020” strategy) and on the national level (e.g. “Growth in Transition” initiative in Austria, Smart Economy Strategy in Ireland, “Prosperity without Growth” in the UK).

The debate has also been taken up by the ESDN in its recent Quarterly Report of December 2009. The workshop took up this debate by focussing on questions such as: What kind of growth should be promoted to achieve SD? Is ‘green growth’ sufficient to move into the right direction from an SD perspective? What can be learned from existing strategies, initiatives and activities that link SD and growth? Which criteria, governance mechanisms and policy tools should be applied to achieve a sustainable economy?

The workshop was aimed at reflecting on the link between SD and growth and at a stock-taking of the various strategies, initiatives and activities on this link that exist on the international, EU and national level. Moreover, the results of the workshop and working group discussions will provide input to the ESDN Conference 2010 and to the development of a “tool box” on moving from green strategies towards an economy compatible with SD principles.

Keynote presentations
Welcome and Introduction

Linking economic growth and sustainable development in Spain

Luis Jimenez Herrero: Executive Director, The Spanish Observatory for Sustainability

Efforts to promote green jobs in Spain: the experience of the Biodiversity Foundation and its Green-Jobs Programme

Sonia Castañeda: Head of the International Relations Department, Biodiversity Foundation of Spain

Session 1: Sustainable development and growth – Reflections and linkages
Session 2: Linking sustainable development and growth – Strategies, initiatives and activities on different political levels
Session 3: How to achieve a sustainable economy?