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In 2050 we will be striving to achieve long-term wellbeing. We will conduct business in a sustainable, circular and transparent manner. Everyone will engage in sustainable development, both at work and at home. We will use the increased leisure time available in ways that are sustainable, creative, social and healthy.

WHAT WILL OUR ECONOMY BE LIKE IN 2050?

In 2050 we will strive to achieve long-term wellbeing based on ecocentric grounds. Our economy will be circular and we will pay the true cost of our impact on the environment and on people.

Long-term wellbeing

By 2050 ecocentric thinking, seeing ourselves as part of nature, will inform our actions and behaviour. Our aim will be harmony between people, planet and prosperity. Our mindset is in line with the principle ‘enough is plenty’ and the consumer society will be a thing of the past. The government will monitor wellbeing using a wide-ranging set of indicators. We will look further than just economic growth and gross domestic product (GDP). We will also consider long-term social and ecological impact, both within and outside the Netherlands. Costs that we incur to prevent harm to the environment and to people will be weighed up against the potential cost of remedying this harm.

Circular economy

By 2050 our economy will be circular. Production will be based on circulating raw materials, powered by renewable energy sources. The basic premise will be that products should retain their value as much and for as long as possible. Circularity will be the guiding principle in product design, manufacturing processes and revenue models. All links in our production chains will work closely together to ensure closed cycles.

In most cases we will pay to use products that we share with others rather than buying to own. This means that manufacturers will continue to own their products, and will therefore have a commercial interest in ensuring that they last a long time, are repaired and are energy-efficient. By using products and materials over and over again, we will prevent overproduction and make optimum use of raw materials and energy. Manufacturers will determine where and on what scale each product can be made most sustainably. We will use renewable raw materials wherever possible. Non-renewable raw materials will be reserved for recyclable materials, and non-recyclables will have been phased out. We will minimise packaging materials and other, single-use products and any we still need will be either biodegradable or recycled, because there will be no such thing as waste.

Taxation

By 2050 the government will levy high taxes on greenhouse gases, raw materials and pollution, which will deter companies and individuals from polluting. By simultaneously keeping tax on labour low, maintaining and repairing products and materials will be more attractive and, in most cases, cheaper than throwing away and replacing them. Harmonising these taxes internationally will prevent companies moving their polluting operations abroad. Taxing pollution means that we will pay the true cost of products and services, which will encourage us to develop and consume more sustainable options, as these will be more competitively priced.

HOW WILL ORGANISATIONS WORK IN 2050?

By 2050 we will conduct business and investment activities in a sustainable and transparent manner. Stakeholders will be involved and will encourage sustainable development.

Policies of organisations

By 2050 organisations will not just be focused on pursuing their own goals. At a minimum, they will ensure that they do not harm the environment or people and will constantly strive to increase their positive impact on society and the environment. To get stakeholders involved, organisations will communicate their sustainability goals and performance. They will set a good example with their positive impact, but will be held accountable for any negative impact they cause. They will be encouraged to continue developing sustainably: internally through responsible leadership at all levels of the organisation, and externally by government, civil society organisations and individual stakeholders.

Sustainable business practice

By 2050 ecological and social responsibility will be a natural part of everyday business practice and will be incorporated into reports and business plans. Government regulation will set the ecological and social boundaries within which companies are allowed to operate. Standards   will ensure that performance on sustainability indicators is communicated in a reliable and uniform manner and we will use this information when choosing between alternatives. This will also give businesses an extra commercial incentive to become more sustainable, because their customers will use this information when comparing alternatives.

Investment and stocks

By 2050 companies will disclose their financial, social and environmental performance and their internal operations in a single integrated annual report. This transparency will help investors understand how companies have performed and enable them to invest in those with sustainable policies. Shareholders will also encourage the businesses in which they invest to make a more positive impact on the environment and on people. Banks, equity funds and insurers will publish investment agendas so that we can choose how our money is used.

HOW WILL WE BE WORKING IN 2050?

In 2050 we will all engage in sustainable development, both at work and at home. We will use the increased leisure time available in ways that are sustainable, creative, social and healthy.

Working on sustainable development

By 2050 we will deploy our skills in meaningful work that contributes to a sustainable society. We will all have the time and freedom to engage in sustainable development at work, as part of and in addition to our usual duties and responsibilities. Employers will give us the opportunity to influence their policy on sustainability, which will engender support for and commitment to sustainable development at every level and in every department of the organisation.

Labour market

In 2050 sustainable jobs, e.g. in the energy sector, will be attractive and sought-after and will be promoted through, for example, campaigns conducted by the government and sectoral organisations. Tasks that artificial intelligence and robots can perform better and more efficiently will have been automated. The resulting cost savings will benefit those who used to do this work, directly from employers and indirectly through taxation. A significant proportion of this money will be used to train or retrain people and help them find new jobs. This will help us meet demand for labour in sustainable industries. There will be no fossil-fuel or polluting industries.

Leisure

By 2050 we will not have to spend so much time working to earn enough money to get by, thanks to automation, conscious consumption and the sharing economy. We will use our leisure time in ways that are sustainable, creative, social and healthy. Recreation will be more about community than about individual consumption. Through our upbringing and education and the efforts of the leisure industry, we will be encouraged to pursue sustainable leisure activities. Only where this fails to prevent harm to people or the environment will government take deterrent measures. We will often spend time enjoying nature without causing any damage to natural areas. This will strengthen our commitment to sustainable development.