Sustainable Development Goals 8 and 9

We recognise that none of the Sustainable Development Goals are being adequately met. We challenge the wisdom of SDG 8 and SDG 9 which are both advocating many of the unsustainable behaviours which are associated with economic growth. We suggest revising Goal 8 along the lines suggested below, if you have any comments on the wording please send them to

Goal 8 Awareness and Empowerment

Earth’s carrying capacity is being constantly exceeded by those human activities which generate economic growth. To facilitate economic degrowth 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 work that will further damage our biosphere. Scope for job transformations are possible rolling back infrastructure that will no longer be needed so that land can be returned to Nature without the human pollution. Work to clean up our waste and pollution, as the population slowly decreases, there should be plenty of work for everyone.  There should literally be zero unemployment globally.  People cleaning up pollution, demolishing dilapidated housing and factories, recycling everything that is salvageable and developing means 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 recent decades to fuel economic growth. All countries need to formally recognise the ecological footprint data which is calculated by the Global Footprint Network.

In countries like the USA and UK the birth rates are plummeting as young adults recognise the magnitude of the existential threats that we are now facing, in poorer countries neither the awareness nor the empowerment is available to many citizens. Affluent countries must raise awareness with their own citizens, by encouraging an economy which aspires to minimise non-essential eco-costly products and behaviour as far as possible. Affluent countries must aspire to 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 GFN data indicates that we have been exceeding the biocapacity of the Earth for several decades. All countries need to understand that economic growth has been fuelled by ecological overshoot. Citizens need to be alerted that overpopulation, overconsumption and irresponsible use of affluence and technology are causing the following problems:

  • resource depletion e.g over-fishing, deforestation
  • poverty
  • escalating collapse of our climate and eco-system – i.e. severe existential threats
  • 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.  The affluent must assume responsibility and alter their behaviour. 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.



To urgently address the global ecological overshoot, 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 overshoot, and redress the unjust distribution of the resulting problems, this can be achieved by financing helpful changes which will empower citizens to reduce their consumption requirements, for example:

  • 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 to these themselves
  • free contraception in countries where this is not available
  • requests for sterilisation in countries where this is not available
  • 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 get involved and are made aware of the impact of their wasteful behaviour on other peoples lives, in this way they might provide direct support to an impoverished community that needs assistance.

In the re-education exercise that will be involved it is recommended that we advocate need to shrink our impact so we can give space back to wildlife. We need to see ourselves as part of a global community willing to work for the collective good. To replace the damaging pursuit of material wealth, we shall need to revert to the old values advocated by the few remaining ‘indigenous’ cultures:

  • Relationship
  • Responsibility
  • Reciprocity
  • Redistribution

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 rich world’s demands. Researchers have confirmed that the wealthy nations are in effect ploughing 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

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