'A footprint means pressing down and global means world, so 'global footprint' means pressing down on the world and we don't want to press too hard' (child's definition of a Global Footprint)
what is Global Learning? CoreKnowledge Key Skills Values and Attitudes what is sustainability? what about climate change?
what about climate change?

Stepping away from debt and credit

The international financial system is not working for people or the planet. It is trampling on communities in the poorest countries, holding back economic and social development, while allowing damaging over consumption in the richer countries. Despite some progress over the last 10 years, the debt problems of the poorest countries remain unresolved; debt reduction and cancellation has failed to catch up with what is needed in these countries. The current economic turmoil in the world shows our current economic system is unjust, unsustainable and doesn’t even make us happy (see Did you know? box).

A fairer and more sustainable global economic system would mean cancelling all outstanding debts owed by the poor countries to the rich and moving on from the obsession Western governments and societies have with economic growth, consumerism and materialism. What is needed is a system that values people; their relationships to one another and the communities and environments they live in.

Personal happiness has little to do with the amount of money we have, the amount we spend or how much we consume?

According to research by the New Economics Foundation (nef), the amount of money we have only has about a 10 per cent effect on our overall level of happiness. The greatest influence on how happy we are is our personality and upbringing (50%), with the remaining 40% influenced by factors such as our relationships, friendships, jobs, our involvement in our community, and being involved in sport and hobbies. Obviously if our basic needs aren’t met, such as food and shelter, we are likely to be unhappy. But after our basic needs are met, extra wealth has little or no effect on our happiness, according to nef.

If this is true it presents challenges as to how we should live our lives and shape our society. In particular it questions the priority we place on earning money, spending and consuming. Some of the recommendations made by nef to reshape our society away from consumerism – and so reducing our footprint – include:

  • investment in childcare and support for parents of children under three years old
  • banning advertising to children because it creates a ‘culture of materialism’,
  • teaching more sports, arts and creative activities in school rather than focusing so much on testing and exams 
  • reducing the amount of time we spend working/earning money so freeing up time to spend socialising with family and friends
  • placing heavy taxes on products that damage the environment  

What do you think of these ideas?
What would you add to this list to help create a society where people and planet are considered more important than money and consumption?


Tell us what you think!

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