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Beset by an unprecedented combination of challenges including globalisation, demographic shifts, high unemployment and climate change, Europe is in dire need of a new kind of growth and development strategy. The authors of this Forum make compelling arguments for a socio-ecological transition, in which traditional measures of progress like GDP growth are downplayed in favour of factors such as social inclusion, environmental welfare, high levels of employment and the well-being of European citizens. This Forum explores some of the issues that must be resolved in order to fully achieve the socio-ecological transition, including the necessary decoupling of non-renewable energy use from GDP growth, the reduction of income and wealth inequalities, and the encouragement of innovation that is not based on fossil fuel technology. The Forum presents an optimistic path forward for the continent, with practical policy solutions that do not ignore the many obstacles facing a successful transition.

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DOI: 10.1007/s10272-016-0599-6