There is growing evidence that ever-increasing economic growth in wealthy countries is neither environmentally sustainable nor socially beneficial, yet the pursuit of ever-escalating production and consumption remains the mantra of our age. A Steady State Economy, maintaining a stable level of production rather than maximising output, has been proposed as an alternative; but the external constraints to achieving this are formidable, and the knock-on effects for global poverty could be devastating. How can we square this circle? David Woodward is an independent writer and researcher on the global economy and development. He was head of the New Global Economy programme at nef (the new economics foundation) and previously worked as an economist for the Foreign Office, the World Health Organisation and Save the Children (UK).