Consumption Economics and the Sustainability of Asia: The Role of Public Policy |

Consumption Economics and the Sustainability of Asia: The Role of Public Policy


Consumption is the fuel that has driven the engine of global capitalism. The financial crisis of 2008/9 has had the world’s leading economists and policy makers in the West urge Asia to make a conscious effort to consume more and thereby save the global economy. This is a view shaped by conventional wisdom and conveniently refuses to acknowledge limits to growth. The talk will argue that this blinkered view needs to be replaced by a more rational approach to meet the challenges of the 21st century. It should be clear to all that if Asians aspire to attain consumption levels taken for granted in the West the results will be catastrophic globally both to the environment and for climate change. Needless to say it will also have significant geopolitical impacts as nations scramble for diminishing resources. The talk will outline that Western consumption levels cannot be attained by the majority of Asians and is in fact undesirable. But how will Asian governments respond to this reality which in many ways is already upon us? The current belief is that technological and financial innovation will, if deployed effectively, help overcome these challenges. The reality is that they cannot and the sooner policy makers openly recognize this, the better so that a different future is shaped. There are several though difficult options for Asia but policy makers in the region must start by shaping the public’s expectations whilst being committed to improving livelihoods. In this way Asia will find itself reshaping capitalism.

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Chandran Nair, Founder & CEO, Global Institute For Tomorrow

Monday, 02 November 2009
12.15 p.m. - 1.30 p.m.

Seminar Room 3-5
Level 3, Manasseh Meyer
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy
469C Bukit Timah Road
Singapore 259772

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