COP27 | The world needs a paradigm shift

While world leaders are currently preparing themselves for yet another UN Climate Change Conference – COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, the Institute for European Environmental Policy calls for decision-makers to address the need for a paradigm shift in economic, social and environmental policies.

The question is no longer how to balance these three elements of sustainable development so that each can thrive. Instead, we should accept that the world operates within clear ecological boundaries that cannot be exceeded.

If we want to ensure the livelihood of future generations, all our activities need to be adjusted according to these ecological boundaries. The diagram of doughnut economy presented by the British economist Kate Raworth in 2012 should be used as a starting point for future macro-economic policies and national decision-making”, says Eero Yrjö-Koskinen, IEEP’s new Executive Director.

Antoine Oger, Head of the Global challenges and SDGs programme at IEEP, also recalls that “while the EU27 is the SDG global leader, we still generate negative international spillovers as we outsource economic, social and environmental impacts abroad, especially in the Global South. This means that any European decarbonisation efforts may eventually be offset, notably through our trade and financial flows”.

As long as our current economic model remains growth-centric and mostly committed to the linear vision of material use and environmental footprint decoupled from GDP growth, making it impossible for us to remain within planetary boundaries, there can be no global solution to the current crisis.

A reconsideration of our economy and way of living is needed, especially in universal education. “Children should be taught at an early age that our lives are dependent on certain ecological boundaries that should be respected. For instance, the atmosphere surrounding the planet is not endless but rather a narrow shield, which should be protected by all means”, continued Yrjö-Koskinen.

The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, more commonly referred to as Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC or COP27, is being held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt from 6 November until 18 November 2022. Referred to as the COP of implementation, the conference includes a large focus on food, loss and damage finance, mitigation and adaptation.

Image by Arek Socha on Pixabay