May 7, 2014

On 8th of July 2014 GLOBE EU, together with its partners from Global Footprint Network, Club of Rome and IUCN EU Representative Office, organized the high-level event ‘Green Growth, Innovation and Finance’ to prepare for the Earth Overshoot Day – the day on which our societies have globally consumed the resources of our planet for one year.

The event gathered representatives from the European policy community, academia, international organizations, civil society and forward-looking businesses to discuss the opportunities for green growth, innovation, greening of the financial system, as well as how to enhance European competitiveness in an increasingly natural resource constraint world while moving towards the circular economy and sustainability.

GLOBE EU President Sirpa Pietikäinen (MEP) and Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy (MEP) chaired the event, which opened with a video greeting from the Commissioner for Environment Janez Potocnik. After the greeting the event continued with keynote speeches and interaction with the audience. Among the highlighted issues was the question on how to develop and implement long-term transformation to sustainable development. Guido Schmidt-Traub (UNSDSN) stressed that it is absolutely crucial to establish a clear pathway to reach the goals of sustainable development and that all actors from different fields, be it politics or business, must take part in the joint effort.

Kurt Vandenberghe and William Neale from the Commission explored Europe’s possibilities to live within the boundaries of the planet by looking into the EU policies on circular economy, research and innovation. Several participating businesses expressed their firm commitment to sustainability and presented business cases on green growth and innovation as well as ideas on how to further support the move towards the circular economy. The essential role of the financial sector in the transition to the green economy was also highlighted in the event. Nick Robins (UNEP Inquiry) stressed that aligning financial policy and sustainability is needed in order to tackle systemic failures and to build policy coherence, and stressed highlighted the opportunities for EU to build on existing work.

Sebastian Winkler (Global Footprint Network) elaborated the concepts of biocapacity and ecological footprint, stressing that turning resource trends around is important for economic recovery in Europe. Luc Bas (IUCN) additionally highlighted the potential for sustainable nature-based solutions in creating prosperity in Europe. Other speakers addressed, among other topics, taking scientific evidence into use in business action for sustainable development as well as that material and energy-use productivity are likely to drive technologies and aspirations in the future. Author Graeme Maxton also reminded that debt induced economic growth is not sustainable and that jobs and living standards should be the first priority when trying to tackle environmental challenges.

The event was concluded with a screening of the documentary movie ‘Last Call’ by Enrico Cerasuolo (Italy/Norway 2013). The documentary is based on the book The Limits to Growth.

Please find the presentations and other documents that were highlighted in the event below. Also make sure to sign the appeal on the UNSDSN website to the World Leaders stressing the need for keeping the temperature rise below 2 degrees. The appeal will be presented in the Leaders Summit this September in New York.