Tackling the Gordian knot: Can economic growth be socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable?
The Trilogue Salzburg 2012, hosted by the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs and the Bertelsmann Stiftung, asks whether and how economic growth can be socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable. Building on the discussion at the Trilogue meetings in 2011 and 2010 on the normative foundations of the world economy and global governance in the 21st century, this year’s Trilogue will reflect on how economic growth can be balanced with social equity and environmental responsibility. The meeting will review the outcomes of new research, undertaken by the Future World Foundation and the Bertelsmann Foundation, on this question.
The two most trenchant criticisms of the prevailing growth models pursued around the world, over several decades since the early 1980s, have been that:
- they have widened economic and social disparities within national societies, while marginalizing persons living in extreme poverty, both in LDCs and elsewhere; and
- they have disregarded planetary boundaries and done substantial harm to the environment on which we depend for our survival.
Several causes of these outcomes have been asserted, among them, the transformation of the financial sector in the developed economies, and its global expansion; the prioritisation of the value of economic growth, measured by advances in GDP, corporate profits and equity market indices, over social concerns and environmental impacts; ideological acceptance of the superior value of markets, and the resulting contraction of the state. Many have argued, in the wake of the global financial crisis that commenced in 2008, that a new, “green” or “qualitative” growth mode, is needed.
Against this background, the Trilogue 2012 convenes political and corporate decision-makers, social entrepreneurs and visionaries as well as leading think tank representatives from around the world to address patterns and limits of global economic growth: What are the dominant growth patterns in the respective world regions? Are new growth models required? What would their characteristics be? How would one balance economic growth objectives with social values or environmental considerations? Is one growth model appropriate on a global scale, given the integration of financial markets and supply chains on the one hand, and the different stages of development, varied resource endowments and specific socio-economic aspirations of different societies on the other?
Tackling the global growth dilemma is considered to be one of the most important pillars of the global agenda. Instead of seeking a predefined consensus, the Trilogue asks how different national and regional communities define the challenge, and how each would recommend that we should address it. This will allow us to identify the perspectives that are held in common across these cultural clusters, and those that diverge. The common perspectives, values and interests that emerge from the research will frame the scope of action on what all agree has to be resolved, while the common values and norms that are identified will serve as the normative parameters of the solutions to be developed.