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WWF’s new report – From crisis to opportunity: Five steps to sustainable European economies – shows that resource efficiency alone could generate the equivalent of the Juncker Investment Plan of over €300bn for the EU economy.

WWF’s report came the moment when the 28 European Economic and Finance Ministers met in Brussels to agree on the new €315bn European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) proposed by President Juncker to boost economic activity and job creation.

Costs to the economy

In line with key findings from the recent European Environment Agency ‘s (EEA) 2015 State of the Environment report, WWF’s report shows that the emerging ecological disaster is very likely to dwarf the current economic crisis.

Damages from floods have cost more than €150bn over the past 10 years, air pollution costs around €537bn every year and every year EU industries import more than €500bn of raw materials no longer available in Europe.

‘Instead of the short-term ‘grow dirty and clean up later’ flawed narrative, President Juncker and EU leaders should look at the real symptoms of our troubled economies: diminishing natural resources and markets failing to take this into account. It’s simple: no economy can develop without natural resources.’

Sébastien Godinot, WWF Economist and author of the report

The conclusion

The report references over 400 studies and reports by key institutions like the OECD, UNEP, World Bank, IMF, ILO and the EU Commission, economic advisors like McKinsey and Ecofys, and leading world economists like Lord Stern, Pavan Sukhdev, and even Simon Kuznets, the ‘father of GDP’. They all lead to one conclusion: building a sustainable economy will more than offset the costs of dismantling the brown economy.

‘The words ‘economy’ and ‘ecology’ share the same root in the Greek word oikos, which means ‘home’. As the names suggest, the two fields are intimately related; yet for too long, economists and conservationists have failed to recognise their essential interdependencies or find a common language to address them. The green economy agenda aims to bridge this gap. It addresses the central political and economic challenge – and opportunity – of our times: to eradicate poverty and improve well-being for all, while living within our ecological limits.’

Janez Potočnik, UNEP Co-Chair of the International Resource Panel

The benefits

The report found that sustainable economies can bring huge annual benefits worth much more than Juncker’s Investment Plan and provide up to 20 million jobs by 2020. How? Largely by using less resources and energy, fixing market failures and protecting Nature in Europe.

‘In September 2014, the latest edition of the WWF Living Planet Report pointed that the Living Planet Index, which measures more than 10,000 representative populations of animals, has declined by 52% since 1970. To put it simply we have lost over half of the world’s wildlife in just 40 years. This is the barometer of what we are doing to our planet: taking more than ecosystems can replenish, depleting our natural capital and impacting nature’s crucial services.’

Marco Lambertini, Director General, WWF International

Five-step roadmap

WWF’s report presents a five-step policy roadmap for Europe to build sustainable economies focused on achievable goals in the next five years.

Five key enabling frameworks should be integrated to deliver maximum results: climate and energy, resource efficiency and management, fiscal and financial policies, global sustainable development leadership and an overarching new strategy for Europe from now to 2050.

Click here for the full WWF report and the five priorities it recommends.

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