The Limits to Growth+50: Global equity for a healthy planet

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In March 1972, a report commissioned by The Club of Rome, shook the world. To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the publication of The Limits to Growth, The Club of Rome are planning a series of webinars and other events featuring leading scientists, economists, as well as thought- and youth leaders reflecting on different topics related to this ground-breaking publication and how lessons from the report and systems knowledge can be applied to the global problems humanity faces today.

At the time of publication, The Limits to Growth was the first study to explore the possible impacts of the growing ecological footprint of population growth, human activities and its physical impacts on our finite planet from a systems perspective. The authors warned that if growth trends in population, industrialisation, resource use and pollution continued unabated, we would reach, and then overshoot the carrying capacity of the Earth at some point in the next one hundred years. 

Over the past half century, the findings of The Limits to Growth have proven remarkably accurate. The world population and economy have continued to grow at roughly the same rate as in the decades before 1970, and as a result, humanity now finds itself facing an unprecedented planetary emergency. The publication has played a critical role in shaping the narrative of sustainable development, alerting the world to the dangers of unlimited growth, environmental pollution and unchecked resource consumption.

“If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we are interconnected and interdependent and part of a wide web of life. Wellbeing for some is wellbeing for none. The pandemic has made it explicit that we as a global community have to radically transform our relationships with one another to secure a healthy planet. The 50th anniversary of The Limits to Growth is an opportunity for all of us to pledge to become better at being good ancestors.” notes Mamphela Ramphele, co-president of The Club of Rome.

The Limits to Growth was a wake-up call but we hit the snooze button. As a result, we now find ourselves facing the greatest challenges of our time including climate change, a global pandemic and international conflict. Our mission has to be to think differently, to apply our brains, our hearts and our souls to codesign the alternative future we want. We need to bring in systems dynamics, as the authors of the The Limits to Growth did 50 years ago, to catalyse systemic approaches to the complex problems facing humanity embedded in our economic, political, natural, and social systems,” says The Club of Rome co-president, Sandrine Dixson-Declève.

As part of its year-long campaign to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Limits to Growth the Club of Rome will be organising a number of global and regional events with partners, as well as a series of webinars to demonstrate the relevance of this seminal publication and the need for accelerating systems change for an equitable, sustainable and resilient future on our finite planet. 

The celebrations kick off with a webinar titled: “Living within Limits” on Wednesday, 2 March 2022, during which original The Limits to Growth author Dennis Meadows, leading economist Jayati Ghosh, climate activist Luisa Neubauer, and eminent scientist Johan Rockström will reflect on the 50 years since the report’s publication and focus on how lessons from The Limits to Growth and systems knowledge can be applied to the current planetary emergency. 

To register for the event on 2 March:

There will be an exclusive press conference with the Club of Rome co-presidents Mamphela Ramphele and Sandrine Dixson-Declève following the panel discussion at 16:30 CET on 2 March 2022. Please email Philippa Baumgartner at  should you wish to participate.

More information on The Limits to Growth+50 celebrations:

Since commissioning this seminal study 50 years ago, the Club of Rome has published more than 40 reports intended to help better understand major global issues and seek to foster a greater sense of civic responsibility. The organisation continues to identify holistic solutions to complex global issues and promote policy initiatives and action to enable humanity to emerge from multiple planetary emergencies through the work done under its five thematic hubs: Emerging New CivilisationsPlanetary EmergencyReframing EconomicsRethinking FinanceYouth Leadership and Intergenerational dialogues.

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