Table 1 Meta approaches for sustainable prosperity.

From: Scientists’ warning on affluence

  Radical approaches Reformist approaches Green growth approach
Sub-group Eco-socialism
(incl. degrowth)
Eco-anarchism A-growth, precautionary/pragmatic post-growth, steady-state economy, prosperity and managing without growth Sustainable growth, ecological modernisation, decoupling
Key references 47,50,51,59,65 54,87 42,52,80,85,86 28,78,79
Key premise/principle/hypothesis/assumptions • Decoupling is most likely not possible
• Necessary changes are most likely not compatible with capitalism
• The democratic state is expected to play a significant role in the transition and beyond, although grassroots movements are still important
• Decoupling is most likely not possible
• Necessary changes are most likely not compatible with capitalism
• The state is not expected to play a significant role in the transition. Instead, grassroots participatory-democratic movements are central in the transition and beyond
• Group 1: infinite growth on a finite planet (decoupling) is most likely not possible (Daly, Victor or Jackson)
• Group 2: agnostic to growth; decoupling could still be possible; uncertainty (van den Bergh, Petschow et al.)
• Necessary changes are compatible with centralised states and capitalism
• Economic growth can be decoupled from environmental impacts and is necessary to provide sustainable technical solutions.
• Necessary changes are compatible with centralised states and capitalism
Goals/aspirations Decouple wellbeing from GDP growth, shrink impacts and expect GDP shrinkage, increase social control over economy using the state Decouple wellbeing from GDP growth, shrink impacts and expect GDP shrinkage, increase social control over economy without using the state Decouple wellbeing from GDP growth, shrink impacts despite possible/likely GDP decrease Maintain high economic growth and decrease impacts (decoupling)
Mechanisms Focus on resource limits, system change and wellbeing Focus on resource limits, system change and wellbeing Focus on resource limits, reforms and wellbeing Focus on resource efficiency, renewable energy and decoupling
Institutions/actors Governments, civil society and grassroots initiatives, voters, scientists Civil society and grassroots initiatives, scientists Governments, civil society and grassroots initiatives, voters, scientists Governments, financial institutions, voters, scientists,
Actions Include strong limits and social justice in policies; Change economic structures, reform institutions and increase social control over economic actions; change lifestyles, consciousness and cultures through grassroots action Change lifestyles, cultures and consciousness through grassroots action; Build alternative localised participatory-democratic economic system besides old one and remove barriers through cooperating with governments Include strong limits and social justice in policies; reform important social institutions; change lifestyles and cultures through grassroots action Adapt policies to include increases in efficiencies
Achievements/examples /implementations Individual downshifting, transition Initiatives, eco-villages, policy reforms e.g. the 2019 Wellbeing Budget in New Zealand as a very first step Individual downshifting, transition initiatives, eco-villages, Catalan Integral Cooperative, Rojava, Zapatistas Individual downshifting, transition initiatives, eco-villages, policy reforms, e.g. the 2019 Wellbeing Budget in New Zealand as a first step OECD and EU policies
Barriers Lack of awareness among the public of limits to growth and alternatives; lack of research on these alternatives; changes could be too radical to be implemented; growth imperatives of states could be too much a barrier Lack of awareness among the public of limits to growth and alternatives; lack of research on these alternatives; changes could be too radical to be implemented; barriers to grassroots action could be too high Lack of awareness among the public of limits to growth and alternatives; lack of research on these alternatives; potential that problems cannot be solved within capitalism and centralised states Priority still on economic growth
Alignment with dominant interests, systems and cultures Low Low Low (Group 1) to medium (Group 2) High
  1. This table only provides a rough overview, focusing on the most obvious differences of the respective approaches. There are overlaps between them and considerable heterogeneity within each approach, e.g. eco-feminism and post-development overlap with eco-socialism and eco-anarchism.