Towards a Sustainable Balance of Population and Resources: Australia to 2050

by Neville Bruce


Australia, the ‘lucky’ country,1 currently enjoys one of the highest standards of living in the world. It ranks second in the UN Human development index,2 it has weathered the recent global financial crisis with little damage, its short to medium term economic prospects seem bright, its government and social structures are stable and generally benevolent, its environment although fragile and damaged, has not yet impacted on human wellbeing, and its resources, needed for its own population and export earnings, seem adequate. For most Australians, general material prosperity, indexed by GDP per capita, has increased significantly over the last 50 years and there is general expectation that it will continue to do so. But can it and should it? There are clear warning signs that this ‘luck’ may not last, certainly over the medium term to 2050. Australian population growth coupled with resource depletion and environmental degradation is of increasing concern. The world too is changing; the challenges of global population increase, global warming, global inequities, and global power realignments will all impact on Australia. How then can Australians balance and help shape these various forces to ensure an equitable and desirable quality of life and an environment that their descendants would like to inherit and in accord with our global obligations? (continue…)

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