Ecological overshoot

Scope and objectives

On 16 February 2023 the Sustainable Development Observatory (SDO) of  the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) will host a public event to assess the extent of the EU's current ecological overshoot. It will look into proposals from organised civil society to push back against resource depletion and present some good practices and initiatives to reduce the EU's impact on the environment.

The invited speakers and participants will reflect on the following questions:  

  • How are the European Green Deal and EU climate change policies tackling the EU's footprint? 
  • Which policy measures are needed to reduce the EU's footprint?
  • What is the role of organised civil society in pushing back on resource depletion?
  • Which are the main challenges in scaling up the actions to reduce the EU's footprint? 

This event will be webstreamed and viewers will be able to send questions live via Slido using the code #OverShoot. If you'd rather attend in person, please contact us to request a registration form.


Ecological resources are the key to our long-term wealth. Yet population growth and consumption patterns are putting pressure on these critical assets. Despite studies showing that ownership of material goods above a certain threshold does not increase the level of happiness, well-being or health, our economic system and cultural patterns promote an endless consumption of non-essential goods.

The way we consume today is not sustainable. The wealthiest corners of the world use up significantly more resources than the ecosystems within their borders can regenerate, and therefore depend heavily on resources from elsewhere. This leads to exploitation of the resources of poorer countries, which are, in turn, under increasing pressure. The implications of ecological deficits can be devastating: resource loss, ecosystem collapse, debt, poverty, famine, and war.

If everyone in the world were to consume as much as the average European does, we would need three Earths’ worth of natural resources. Yet, at the same time, the economic system cannot guarantee equal access to affordable housing, energy or healthy and sustainable diets.

Insufficient political attention and action is focused on adapting the current consumption and production patterns to make them truly sustainable. Triggering behavioural changes is part of the solution but the problem goes beyond consumer behaviour. We need bold solutions and structural policies.

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