Introduction: What is sustainable economy?
Generally speaking, economy involves the way in which a community produces the things that people need in their everyday lives (food, clothes, objects, etc.), and how they get and use them.
Agriculture, fishing, farming are typical economic activities through which we get food. These activities are fundamental because our very survival depends on them.
Mining and forestry are examples of economic activities thanks to which we get raw material (stones, metals, wood) that can be transformed into objects and products.
Other economic activities are trade (that is, selling and buying products), transportation, services (education, healthcare, etc.), banking and finance (which involve the management of money).
Sustainable economy is a type of economy that guarantees respect for the environment and people, beyond ensuring economic growth.
Imagine we are a small community living in a very wooded area somewhere in Europe. How could we ensure prosperity to our community? Hypothetically, if we only looked at economic growth, we may want to create as many wooden products (for instance, furniture) as possible, at any cost. But in a short period of time, we would run out of wood, damaging both the environment and our possibility for future prosperity. So, a balance between wealth growth, respect for the environment and for the people is needed.
As we will see throughout this Module, some important questions dealing with sustainable economy are:
- What amount of natural resources are needed to create the products we need?
- Are all people wealthy enough to get the goods and services they need to have a good quality of life?
- What are the conditions in which the people work to create goods and services?
Sustainable economy is necessary for sustainable development, which is development that is able to satisfy the needs of current generations without compromising the possibility that future generations are able to satisfy their own needs.
Sustainable development provides for economic development of society in compliance with environmental aspects and social rights.
Sustainable economy is based on 3 E’s:
- Ecology: sustainable development tries to meet current needs while leaving ecosystems intact. It promotes rational use of resources, which are not unlimited.
- Equity: well-being and rights must be widespread and accessible to all, as well as guaranteed for future generations. Income and work should be distributed in a fairly way.
- Economy: sustainable development must ensure efficient economic growth and progress of society, as this is a precondition for prosperity and good quality of life.