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Is It too Late to Change the Impact of the Human Ecological Footprint?

The Secretary General of the Club of Rome, Graeme Maxton challenged students with a thought-provoking keynote address highlighting the consequences of the current unsustainable living standard in developed economies and suggesting that it would take 3.1 Earths if everyone around the world lived like the Swiss.


Welcome Address by the Dean of the ZHAW School of Management and Law, Prof. Dr. Reto Steiner

It is well known that the Club of Rome, an organization consisting of over 100 individuals such as the American economist Joseph E. Stiglitz, had a major impact with its publication “The Limits to Growth” in 1972. What is less known is the fact that since 2008 the organization has been based in the city of Winterthur, just next to the ZHAW School of Management and Law (SML) main campus.

On 27 November, Graeme Maxton, the Secretary General of the Club of Rome and author of “Reinventing Prosperity: Managing Economic Growth to Reduce Unemployment, Inequality, and Climate Change” presented his analysis of the global economy to over 80 students.

His main message was that climate change is not actually the main problem that humanity is facing, but that it is a symptom of the currently unsustainable human ecological footprint. According to Maxton, this is caused, on the one hand, by the global population growing too rapidly and, on the other, by wrong incentives affecting the current economic system. In his talk, Maxton challenged the widespread thinking that economic growth helps to create jobs, reduce inequality, and end poverty.

TwitterIn the subsequent panel discussion, those findings were challenged by Maria Clara Rueda Maurer, economist and Senior Lecturer at the ZHAW School of Management and Law, and Dr. Patrik Schellenbauer, Chief Economist of the liberal think tank Avenir Suisse. Particularly the case of China and its recent success in lifting over 500 million citizens out of extreme poverty was discussed as an example of how economic growth can contribute towards reducing poverty in the world.

This public lecture organized by the Center for European Business & Affairs is part of a regular exchange between the SML and a wide range of international institutions. Recent events include a guest lecture by EU Ambassador Michael Matthiessen on the state of Swiss-EU relations or the organization of the Trade Counselors’ Meetings in Bern. Beyond that, the Center is also  fosters these important relationships with the continuing education program CAS in Foreign Affairs & Applied Diplomacy.

Contact: Florian Keller, Head of Center for European Business & Affairs

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