From: Jules Pretty, Ecologist, More from this Affiliate
Published February 22, 2015 08:02 AM

We need to focus on health and well-being, not economic growth

The financial cost of the diseases of modern civilization is almost double the budget of the National Health Service, writes Jules Pretty, while the economy has grown past the point of greatest satisfaction. Our over-riding priority should be to move to greener, healthier, more sustainable and satisfying ways of life.

A substantial financial dividend could be released by a greener and healthier economy. Instead of encouraging material growth and consumption, we should consume in a way that is environmentally sustainable. 

Increases in gross domestic product (GDP) beyond a threshold of basic needs do not lead to further increases in well-being - this is widely supported by research. We also know that indefinite economic growth is impossible in a finite world.

Yet conventional economic growth driven by escalating material consumption remains a primary goal of government policy around the world.

If we want to see well-being and health improve, policies that promote a greener economy should be pursued. Redefining what we think of as prosperity, encouraging the consumption of green goods and services - and moving away from an emphasis on material consumption - could save governments money, as well as lead to better lives for its citizens.

GDP growth has brought with it substantial improvements on a number of fronts - from medical services to crime detection, better transport and housing and, increasingly, the adoption of renewable sources of energy.

Young family enjoying outdoor activity image via Shutterstock.

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