We consume too much, in an unsustainable manner, and transitioning to sustainability is hard: the challenges come from legislation, governance, companies, technologies, and from personal behaviours and mindsets.

The vision of the European Green Deal will probably require more determination in the next decades to implement it, than it required in the previous four years to formulate and legislate it.

Hans Bruyninckx, EEA Executive Director

Growth without economic growth

Economic growth is closely linked to increases in production, consumption and resource use and has detrimental effects on the natural environment and human health.

It is unlikely that a long-lasting, absolute decoupling of economic growth from environmental pressures and impacts can be achieved at the global scale. Growth is culturally, politically and institutionally ingrained. Societies need to rethink what is meant by growth and progress and their meaning for global sustainability. The various communities that live simply can offer inspiration for social innovation.

The European Green Deal and other political initiatives for a sustainable future require not only technological change but also changes in consumption and social practices.

Imagining an agricultural sector fit for the future

While global food chains, market competition, industrial processes and increasing productivity have turned agriculture into a profitable economic sector, it is also one of the biggest contributors to environmental and sustainability challenges in Europe and worldwide.

Considering these new challenges, it is even more urgent to rethink agriculture and food systems to make them resilient and sustainable. We should also be asking broader questions. For example, what roles might agriculture and the food system play in a sustainable future? Which of agriculture’s functions should society strive to preserve and support?

Our briefing reflects on what makes agriculture unsustainable today — and the types of agriculture we may want to preserve and support. It is part of our series 'Narratives for change'.

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