As this year’s World Economic Forum underlined, growth dominates Davos discussions – yet the focus should be on sustainable development
This year’s gathering at Davos discussed inequality more than ever before. The latest Oxfam report has focused us all on one figure: 1% of the world’s population is soon to hold as much wealth as the remaining 99%. I’m not one of those criticising the Davos crowd for existing: “a club for the 1% to bond”, or “an annual shindig of the top 0.0001% (approximately)” according to the New Statesman).
My critique is that they are talking about the wrong thing. They should be talking about sustainable development, not economic growth. Are they not the same? Well, no. Growth is sometimes good for some of the things we care about, such as poverty reduction, but not so good for others, for example, driving down infant malnutrition or generating good quality employment. And sometimes it is downright destructive, generating greenhouse gases that undermine growth in the future. In other words, the quality of growth matters as much as, if not more than, the quantity.
GNP has sat on the throne for a very long time. It is time to drag it off and replace it with a worldlier monarch