Photo: Jose A. Warletta 

Researchers explore a future beyond growth

What happens if the current GDP growth won't continue? How will such a society look like? What would it mean for our life and for our welfare? These are questions that are asked in a five year interdisciplinary research project, led by KTH.

In policies for sustainable urban development, continued GDP growth is generally taken for granted. Sustainable growth is anoverall political goal, however the rhetoric around this concept have become increasingly criticized by researchers pointing tothat there is no evidence of nations having decoupled growth from environmental degradation, given that the global footprintsof these nations are accounted for.

GDP growth is still reliant on access to cheap energy, and in the context of climate changeand peaking resources, it is predicted that energy costs will rise. In this program we will explore what happens if the assumed GDP growth is halted. This may be due to a redirection of politics towards a steady state economy or it may be a result offinancial crises or failed growth politics.

The aim is to explore scenarios for developments with degrowth, steady state and lowgrowth and develop strategies that can be used within the field of building and planning in Sweden. Using three case studyregions, we will develop strategies for the building sector, for delivering welfare services, for transportation and for everyday practices.

The results are scenarios with a macro economic model and strategic tools for national, regional and localstakeholders. Having preparedness and tools for how to cope with declining growth are deemed to be of highest societalrelevance for Sweden as well as other nations, irrespective of whether this is regarded as a possibility or a threat.

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