chapter  11
14 Pages

11Cities as places of a new, shared prosperity


The inquiry into 40 European cities explored possible seeds for new ways of producing, distributing, and consuming goods in the urban context, which respect the boundaries of the planetary ecosystems and the human striving for well-being at the same time. It was motivated by the assumption that the simultaneous pursuit of these goals would collide with the goal of ever-growing market income and increasing purchasing power at the global scale. Analysing the data of the past four decades, the strong ties between world income growth and world greenhouse gas emissions show no signs of relaxation. Economic growth endangers other global ecosystems as well, as current studies indicate ( Jørgen Randers 2012; Will Steffen et al. 2015). Thus, a worldwide search is underway for new forms of economic activity that are independent of the imperative of ever-growing market income. There is a wealth of concepts on offer, all claiming to solve the same problem of resource overconsumption: green growth, de-growth, post-growth, and others. They coincide in their joint rejection of ‘brown growth’, which is based on the burning of fossil fuels. Yet even the question of whether the use of nuclear power is part of the problem or part of the solution is controversial (cf. chapter 4). Their joint criticism of the mainstream focus on market income growth in respect of its negative ecological and social effects is relevant. But it is doubtful whether alternatives to the still prevailing brown growth paradigm should be defined – with different prefixes – in terms of growth at all. Expressions like prosperity, sustainability, or resilience are instead more useful to overcoming the general obsession with economic growth.