Applehood and Mother Pie!

On Tuesday evening, 8 November, we were treated to a fantastic, informative and enjoyable Public Lecture by Professor Tim Jackson from the University of Surrey.

Professor Jackson, for the few of you who may not know, is Professor of Sustainable Development at Surrey and was the first person in the UK to be given that title.

In March 2004, he was appointed Economics Commissioner on the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC).  During 2004 he worked closely with Defra on the UK Sustainable Development Strategy and between November 2004 and March 2006, he was the sole academic representative on the UK Sustainable Consumption Round Table, co-authoring their influential report I will if you will.

From 2006 to 2009, he led the SDC’s Redefining Prosperity programme and authored the controversial report, later published by Earthscan as Prosperity without Growth – economics for a finite planet.  He continued to lead the economics work at the SDC until its recent controversial closure by the UK government in March this year.

As well as having been a leading figure in sustainable development for over twenty years, Professor Jackson is also an award-winning dramatist – we’re not quite sure how he finds the time!

On top of all of that, he also found time on Tuesday night to entertain a near-capacity crowd of around 340 attendees with his lecture Where is the new economy? Prosperity, work, and sustainability ‘after the crisis’.

Giving an explanation of economic systems and the 2009 crash that even non-economists like us were able to follow, Professor Jackson highlighted fatal flaws in the setup of our current financial institutions with their reliance on, and assumed worth of, continued economic growth at all costs.

Highlighting the unique (in economic terms) nature of the current ‘post-crisis’ financial landscape, Professor Jackson deftly illustrated the need for radically new thinking and restructured financial institutions if we are to have any hope of ending the current global recession.

Pointing toward the need for more emphasis on ‘low human productivity’ sectors such as the service industries, Professor Jackson showed that it could be possible, even in a time of recession, to achieve full employment and reduced carbon emissions, but only if a change of mind-set were achieved on the part of government, the financial sector and business leaders.

He even made us all laugh … while talking about economics! Who’d have thought?

We would highly recommend buying a copy of his book Prosperity without Growth – economics for a finite planet – if it’s half as good as his lecture, it will be worth the cover price.

Oh, and the title of this review?  Well, you had to be there … or you could listen to it and see the slides here!

If you enjoyed Professor Jackson’s lecture, or you missed it and wish you had been there, you may be interested in our next Public Lecture: Dr Peter White will be talking on 29 November about Sustainable consumption – oxymoron or opportunity? Admission is open to all and free of charge.

Anne Buckle
Communications Administrator
Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability (NIReS)