Wealth and health in a sustainable future

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Graph that shows increasing life expectancy with higher domestic product
The association between life expectancy and gross domestic product (purchasing power parity per person, 2011): Source www.gapminder.org (accessed 2020-08-14).

Business as usual is not an option. Exponential economic growth that relies on increasing consumption of natural resources is not sustainable and will not result in a healthy future for all.

An energy transition away from fossil fuels accompanied with increased material efficiency is essential. But, decoupling on its own – focussing purely on resource intensity – will only buy us time. The obsession with continued economic growth based on production and consumption also needs to be addressed.

The immediate priority has to be a green recovery that reduces emissions of greenhouse gases, invests in biodiversity, and decreases disparities. Even though these measures may not prove sufficient in the long-run, they will improve health, reduce health inequities, and set our economies onto a more sustainable path.

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