In this chapter, Dr Mahmood Messkoub provides a critique of conservative environmentalism, asking how can we meet increasing health, education and other social needs whilst minimizing the depletion of natural resources.
Published as a chapter in Visions and strategies for a sustainable economy: Theoretical and policy alternatives (eds N. Karagiannis and J.E. King), 'Sustainability and social policy nexus' critiques conservative environmentalism that is inspired by Malthusian population pressure (with all its social policy implications), that to some extent also informs the degrowth approach.
'The human theory of needs'
Messkoub asks how can we meet the increasing health, education and other social needs whilst minimizing the depletion of natural resources. He argues that the answer to the question of a sustainable social policy in part lies in an economic model, a la Kalecki and others, that can manage/negotiate the composition of output whilst investing in resources to reduce depletion of natural resources and greenhouse emissions.
This is a growth strategy based on ‘the human theory of needs’ that meets the needs of current generation and provides some measure of inter-generational justice. The welfare and social policy counterpart of this should involve public and collective provisioning of socially necessary services of health and education as well as a range of other care services that will reduce per capita cost through economies of scale and scope whilst providing an equitable access to these services – universal provision and access and not targeting is at the heart of this approach.