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One Planet Economy Concept

A ‘One Planet Economy’ is measured ultimately by the resource flows and global impacts of its supply chains, from production to consumption. However there is much more to an economy than material movements.

There are flows of finance and credit: inputs of labour and skills: international trade and development issues, and so on.

There is no single or complete way to represent such a wide range of issues, or to define a strategy which is guaranteed to achieve the One Planet target in resource flows and global impacts. But we can identify from experience, analysis and road-testing, the most significant principles.

There are many goals for a One Planet Economy, but we take global ecological limits as the focus here, as the ultimate container of economy and society.

In close collaboration with project partners, the OPEN Network and others this part of the website will be updated in the near future.

One Planet Economy Targets

The key result of WWF’s Living Planet Report series shows that the developed world is exploiting the Earth’s available resources, as measured in bio-productive land area or ‘bio-capacity’, at more than three times its “fair” share, as measured by the Ecological Footprint in global hectares per capita (gha/cap). This is not a universal catch-all measure, but it does draw attention to the totality of global impacts and limits. These of course will change over time, so the One Planet target is a moving target, but the levels of magnitude are likely to remain similar:

  • By 2050 there is likely to be a 50% increase in world population, up to 9 billion people.
  • There may be some additions to bio-capacity through land reclamation and reforestation, but there may be other damage to eco-systems.
  • Therefore a mid-range estimate of change in available bio-capacity would be from 1.81 (2009) to approximately1.3 gha/cap in 2050.
  • To reduce the current EU footprint of 4.5 gha/cap to the 2050 fair share bio-capacity of 1.3 gha/cap would need a 70% reduction.
  • If we factor in current growth trends the EU footprint could be anywhere between 6.5 – 7.5 gha/cap in 2050, we would need around an 80% reduction.

How would a sustainable Europe look in 2050? We can envisage a vastly more efficient economy, where energy and materials are used to maximum effect. Shops will no longer need to sell disposable goods, and waste mountains would be a thing of the past. Responding to climate change buildings will produce their own energy needs. Innovation in science and technology no longer driven by profit alone, is inspired by the One Planet Economy challenge and becomes everyday practice in all branches of industry.

There is an equal and opposite agenda on the consumption side – consumers demand low impact products and services, and share cars or equipment where possible. They actively prefer products which are adaptable, long-lived, and designed for remanufacture. The principle of stewardship ensures that resources are shared according to need, rather than squandered in conspicuous consumption. Two hundred years after giving rise to the Industrial Revolution, the EU pointed the way towards an industrial evolution.


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One Planet Thinking


In a One Planet Future, we will be living in a world that will certainly be different from the one we live now. In order to prevent a 2 degree Celcius rise in global average tempertaures we will have globally decarbonised our economies.


7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development

The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement N° 227065. The contents of this website are the sole responsibility of the One Planet Economy Network and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union. 

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