At the Oppenheimer Generations Research conference 5-7 October, 2022 Future Ecosystems for Africa ran a panel discussion: Post-growth or green-growth – alternative development pathways for Africa. The goal was to open up a debate on alternative economic models for equitable African development in the context of a need for sustainability and decarbonisation.
Much of the mainstream discussions on how to solve the climate crisis involve harnessing the power of capital and industry to find innovative solutions that not only create a sustainable future, but continue to produce profit for the people and countries involved i.e. green growth. This is also used as a motivation to get the developing world on board: with the assumption that leap-frog technologies will enable economic growth (and by extension ‘development’) for countries in the global south without the heavy environmental costs incurred by developed nations.
An alternative perspective holds that a key step out of the climate crisis is a reconfiguration of our expectations that healthy economies can grow continuously, and that only by changing the way our global economy works will we be able to find solutions to the environmental problems facing us. This perspective has not gained much traction among decision-makers as it requires a total rethink of the global development agenda and an acknowledgment of who truly benefits from the current system. This panel discussion brings together thinkers who have been engaged in these ideas to discuss what these issues mean for Africa – the continent with the lowest carbon footprint, but a massive need to provide good lives for the over 1 billion people living here.