Sustainable Development Goal 8

We challenge the wisdom of Sustainable Development Goal 8 which is currently advocating ‘Decent Work and Economic Growth‘. We regard the global economic growth paradigm as the underlying cause of the current climate and ecological crisis. We propose a replacement to SDG8 entitled ‘Awareness and Empowerment’. The wording below is recommended. If you like the idea of this proposal please sign the petition to the UN.

Goal 8 Awareness and Empowerment

The inspiration to the goals in this Sustainable Development Goal stem from the demographic model provided by Professor Chris Bystroff. The Bystroff model uses mathematics to model several different possible scenarios showing how the human population might decline as a result of the imbalances in our eco-system. The graph below, taken from his research paper, highlights the need to make this revised SDG8 more important than any of the others. The black line represents an attempt to continue with the prevailing behaviours dictated by the paradigm of economic growth.

To urgently address the ongoing global ecological collapse, affluent individuals are urged to reduce their consumption to essential requirements only. Where possible surplus affluence should be used in ways that will both alleviate the collapse, and redress the unjust distribution of the resulting problems. This can be achieved by financing sustainable changes which will empower citizens to reduce their consumption requirements.

Earth’s carrying capacity is being constantly exceeded by human activities conducted to generate economic growth. Economic growth is not viable in a time of ecological collapse. To redress the injustice of decades of damaging economic growth we urgently need to globally implement the provision of essentials to all, and to reduce the provision of eco-costly non-essentials to a minimum. It is important to avoid activities that will further damage our biosphere. There is great scope for job transformations as we roll back infrastructure that will no longer be needed, returning land to Nature without the pollution from humans. There will be plenty of work for everyone as we try to clean up our waste and pollution from the past. 

The aspirations in this SDG are an alternative to population decline from famine and resource wars. Instead we propose a decline driven by the raised awareness and emotional maturity of a few, which will inspire worldwide awareness of this prediction and its cause. This awareness will be coupled with the recognition of the need for worldwide availability of an ethical ‘My Death is My Decision’ end of life service and ethical provisions of free contraception and free sterilisation and abortion services worldwide. These aspirations will serve to empower everyone to choose the extent of their contribution to the managed aspect of the decline in our numbers. We envisage the future becoming increasingly more chaotic as the reality of the existential threats materialises. Strong emotionally resilient communities need to be in place as soon as possible to face the future as selflessly as possible. Our common objective being to salvage as much bio-diversity as possible and restore a better ecological balance as swiftly as possible.

There should literally be zero unemployment globally, as people clean up pollution, demolish or repurpose dilapidated housing and factories, recycle everything that is salvageable and develop methods of returning things to Nature in a manner that is non-polluting. It is envisaged that a raft of community support work will replace the damaging materialistic consumer culture that has been pursued in the last 100 years to fuel economic growth.

All countries need to formally acknowledge the insights from the ecological footprint data which is calculated by the Global Footprint Network together with any other relevant data which is scientifically peer-reviewed and considered reliable. Bio-diversity monitoring will be a key area of work that will need to be enhanced and refined over coming months and years, so that we can accurately assess our efforts to recover a healthy ecological balance.

In richer nations each person has considerably more impact on the environment. In poorer countries, the empowerment is not available to many citizens to control family size. Affluent countries must raise awareness and empowerment with their own citizens, by encouraging an economy and population size which aspires to minimise non-essential eco-costly products and behaviour as much as possible. Affluent countries must also help to raise awareness and empowerment in poorer countries by providing funding to facilitate the transition to a sustainable economy in place of a growth economy.

The term ‘carrying capacity’ below is defined as: ‘the maximum population that an area can support without deterioration in the ecological balance of the environment’. The WWF 2020 Living Planet Report tells of 8.8% insect decline since 1925. This tells us that more that half Earth’s biocapacity is needed for biodiversity to thrive. Human consumption was about 0.5 Earths in 1925. The screenshot below is from the animation that introduces the need for the Charter for Ecological Justice.

The insect decline data combines with the GFN data to indicate that we have been exceeding the carrying capacity of the Earth since about 1925. All countries need to understand that economic growth has caused severe ecological overshoot. Overshoot is caused by both overconsumption and overpopulation. These two terms are defined below:

  • Overconsumption refers to any use of affluence and technology that is considered non-essential for the basic survival, emotional well-being, and emotional resilience of the overall human population.
  • Overpopulation refers to a scenario in which a population exceeds the half of the biocapacity within its borders. Because lifestyles significantly influence the use of biocapacity, especially in affluent countries, adopting sustainability-oriented lifestyles can offer a more rapid route to reduce overshoot than by voluntary use of birth control.

Throughout the world, citizens need to be alerted that overpopulation and overconsumption are causing the current ecological collapse which is manifested in these ways:

  • resource depletion e.g over-fishing, deforestation
  • soil degradation from intensive agriculture
  • poverty
  • escalating collapse of our climate and eco-system – i.e. severe existential threats causing the sixth mass extinction – from which humans are not exempt

The overuse of natural resources has made us vulnerable to population collapse.  Life expectancy is already reduced by COVID-19. Poorer countries have faced the pandemic without sophisticated health services and very little vaccination. This is a continuation of the injustice that we have seen with climate collapse.  We shall all need to embrace a minimalist style of living to minimise the existential threats which are now escalating because of climate and ecological collapse.

The burden of responsibility for the existential threats and actualities that we now face lies primarily with the affluent countries.

The more-affluent countries will need to assist those countries that require assistance to implement this Sustainable Development Goal and all the other SDGs.   The world’s great ecosystems are being destroyed in the service of global trade, to meet the demands of the wealthy. Researchers have confirmed that the wealthy nations are in effect ploughing the savanna and felling tropical forests at a distance. In the first 15 years of this century, the growing demand from the well-heeled for chocolate, rubber, cotton, soy, beef and exotic timber has meant that poorer nations have actually increased their levels of deforestation. In effect, every human in the G7 nations is responsible for the loss of at least four trees a year, mostly in the developing world. reference

Priorities must be altered to recognise the need to use ecological resources as sparingly as possible for long-term survival of the human species to be possible.



  • educational enterprise to grow understanding of what is required to repair the ecological imbalance that we have caused
  • support cultural change needed to embrace the shifts needed in all countries
  • support efforts to assist Nature to recover
  • eco-recovery jobs in countries that cannot afford to fund these themselves
  • essentials for survival in countries that cannot afford these themselves
  • family planning education everywhere this is not available
  • free contraception in countries where this is not available
  • free sterilisation on request in countries where this is not currently available
  • ethical assistance for those who seek death with dignity rather than seeking eco-costly medical treatments, or for those who wish for an escape from the starvation and deprivation which will escalate with eco-collapse.
  • alternatives to those technologies which damage the environment
  • natural carbon-capture
  • setting up sponsorship or twinning schemes between affluent and poor communities, so affluent people can be involved and are made aware of the impact of their wasteful behaviour on other peoples’ lives
  • assisting and accommodating refugees from the environmental disasters that we anticipate will escalate

In the re-education exercise that will be involved it is recommended that we advocate the need to shrink our impact so we can give space back to wildlife. Without bio-diversity the eco-system that we need for survival collapses. We need to see ourselves as an integral part of the global community, benefitting by working for the collective good. To replace the damaging pursuit of material wealth, we shall need to revert to some of the old values advocated by the few remaining ‘indigenous‘ cultures:

  • Relationship
  • Responsibility
  • Reciprocity
  • Redistribution
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