"Sustainable economic growth" is an oxymoron and is NOT sustainable on a finite planet.

p { margin-bottom: 0.25cm; line-height: 120%; }a:link { } "Sustainable economic growth" is the fundamental "elephant in the room" of the current planning system, perverting the democratic process and compromising the well being of future generations by pandering to the construct of an amoral economic paradigm which promotes endless growth on a finite planet.


This paradigm encourages short sighted policy which promotes greed and population increase at the expense of long term environmental and social well being.


Ironically, in this time of so called 'austerity', precipitated by the chicanery of the global banking system through real estate speculation, commercial interests incessantly invoke the concept of "sustainable economic growth" in order to justify and promote further short sighted speculative 'development', irrespective of public need or ecological best practice.


There needs to be serious public debate regarding the issue of ecological "carrying capacity", recognising the limits to endless economic growth.


Noted academic David Suzuki considers “conventional economics is a form of brain damage”.

Why the contribution is important

"Sustainable economic growth" is an oxymoron and is NOT sustainable on a finite planet.


"Sustainable economic growth" is symptomatic of what has been termed “zombie economics” in which real estate speculation now accounts for 25% of new jobs, in this moribund, non-productive economy. 


In recognition of this it is imperative that "sustainable economic growth", which is currently embedded at the heart of government policy, is reappraised, and that the term "sustainable development" is re-affirmed, faithful to the original context as defined in the Bruntdland Report:


"development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."


...the most affluent of countries, operate on a depletion economy, leaving destruction in its wake... When the last tree is cut, the last fish caught, and the last river polluted, when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realise too late that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money.”                - American Indian proverb

by SimonB on February 19, 2016 at 01:36PM

Current Rating

Average score : 4.5
Based on : 16 votes


  • Posted by L1Jackson2Clark February 19, 2016 at 17:11

    To sell off land and historic buildings which are clearly finite is not a sustainable method of balancing the books surely?
  • Posted by TF February 19, 2016 at 19:42


    The current 'system' appears to judge economic growth on the price of property, rather than the average income of the average citizen. Property values have gone up more than 100% in the past 15 years, and I would be surprised if income has increased as much as 10%.

    The systematic destruction of historic buildings, whether of any significance or not is irrelevant, to be used by large property developers, looted and built upon with sub-standard methods is a demoralising policy.
  • Posted by switcheroo February 22, 2016 at 18:01

    I cannot help but think that this is rather dramatic, particularly the "proverb" posted at the end.

    What development would you actually want to see? Talking about sustainable development is all well and good, and in many cases admirable, but frankly I fail to see how near enough any development is compatible in with your world view.
  • Posted by SimonB February 23, 2016 at 15:57

    In response to switcheroo's comment, what is rather dramatic is the evident ecological degradation and instability which comes as a result of our reckless social relationship driven by the construct of endless economic growth.

    In Scotland we have a rich heritage of noted individuals who resisted the "Monster of Mammon" such as John Muir and Robert Burns.

    We can live sustainably, in harmony with Nature, but we MUST stop pandering to the construct of conventional economic thinking and evolve beyond the madness of this mantra for "sustainable economic growth", which is merely an extension of the old feudal mindset of power and property.
  • Posted by LF February 24, 2016 at 00:18

    I support SimonB's comments, and acknowledga an urgent need, in planning terms, to move away from a focus on economic growth, towards development that is sustainable in a meaningful sense.
     Planners (and politicians) are often 'seduced' by unsupported and inaccurate claims that development will generate local employment.
    Here in D&G a powerful local landowner's proposals for opencast coal and unconventional gas extraction were promoted as "sustainable local development", in a rural area dependent on agriculture & tourism, although these would be detrimentally impacted by the proposals..
    Planners accepted multiple "minor" development applications for what was clearly a major development, so that local people were not made aware of the scale of the proposal. I have since learned that this is not uncommon practice.
    We need reforms that create a more ethical and positive vision of "sustainable" planning, to counter development industry claims that speed and efficiency are the only way of ensuring necessary development such as housing, and consequently disempower communities
    We need to expose the assertions of the development industry that they are working in the public interest, that without them development cannot be delivered.
    Our own experience confirms that developers:
    -Submit repeat applications that wear communities down
    -Manipulate consultation opportunities such as pre application consultation
    -Submit applications piecemeal, in order to avoid consultation requirements for major developments
    -Intimidate community opposition with threats to sue anyone delaying development

    We need to strengthen the plan-led system by introducing mechanisms to increase certainty that plans will be followed. This requires limiting discretion in the development management process and involves experimentation with more fixed forms of zonal plan-making.
  • Posted by JohnColledge February 28, 2016 at 22:51

    This is such an important issue. There is a need for a planning system that caters for all. Regardless of what party anyone supports, the people of Scotland come first, not developers.
  • Posted by Alisoun February 29, 2016 at 11:59

    Simon B and John Colledge are quite right in their views. They are not being alarmist or over-dramatic. This is certainly an important issue for every citizen and we the citizens should indeed come before developers who are interested only in monetary profit.
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