Nowadays, Europe faces the challenge of returning to the path of rapid but, at the same time, sustainable growth. Sustainable development, as we may also refer to it, calls not only for sound economic foundations but also for firm social and environmental basis in equal part. Which economic system can reconcile the three aforementioned dimensions? Are the old formulas still reliable, save that we need to be more effective when implementing them or, alternatively, are we supposed to search for new solutions? Does the past offer any constructive conclusions and today’s observations open some windows for the future outlooks?
The question is whether we are lost in the mists of our ignorance and the world’s future directions are totally obscure for us. While it is not feasible to give a clear-cut answer to those questions, we pragmatically assume in the present report that the most evident trends of global nature must be first taken into account when developing strategic documents of any kind. Rapid development of today’s emerging markets that were referred to as developing economies not so long ago is one of such megatrends. In the global power system, the momentum is shifting towards the new, or rather re-born powers, such as China or India. The significance of countries from Latin America and Africa is also on the increase.
New global players that were recently living on the verge of poverty have now started rapidly accumulating wealth and, consequently, they have been not only changing the status of global politics but also increasing the volume of issues related to the consumption of non-renewable resources and growing human burden for the natural environment.
The radical acceleration of global climate changes is one of the major environmental problems we face nowadays. While the negative impacts of such changes affect now and will affect in the future mainly developing countries, developed countries are also exposed to them in both direct and indirect manner. Accordingly, it is highly probable that the current century will witness increasing competition for limited volumes of natural resources and increasing environmental issues that will destabilise the global order. In such context, Europe, and Poland equally, should be interested in taking measures that will render it possible to reduce the dependence on resources and prevent environmental issues from escalation to volumes that might threaten safety of the continent population and the stability of its environment. Poland faces yet another challenge as the country needs to uphold the pace of economic development in order to continue its struggle to shorten the distance between the standard of living in Poland and the most developed countries. The present report discusses the possibilities of reconciling environmental, social and economic challenges within a coherent modernisation strategy whereby Poland 2050 would differ from its four-decades-back predecessor not only by the level of its wealth in purely monetary terms but also by the resource efficiency and the country’s impact on the external environment.