n his address to the European Parliamentin Brussels, HRH The Prince of Waleshighlights the risks posed to economicgrowth by climate change and theexploitation of the planet's natural resources. His RoyalHighness believes, however, that countries andbusinesses who adopt a low-carbon future will gaincompetitive advantage and be rewarded with newbusiness opportunities.Having only fairly recently been afforded the privilegeof addressing this Parliament, I was somewhatastonished - indeed touched - to be invited back againto discuss the crucial subject of how we can shift oureconomies onto a lower-carbon trajectory. I realise onlytoo well that you are engaged ceaselessly withmomentous issues, not least how to navigate theturbulent currents of this difficult and seriouseconomic climate. But it is certainly heartening thathere, in Brussels, so much thought is being given tothe profound changes we need if Europe is to copewith the long-term economic consequences of climatechange and the depletion of the world's naturalcapital. If I may, I would like to take this opportunity toconsider why there is no more pressing problem andalso how, perhaps, it might be addressed.First and foremost, I believe, we need to deepen ourunderstanding of the relationships between food,energy, water and economic security and the policieswhich are put in place in those areas; this isincreasingly important given the rising demand andcompetition for land and other resources, which isalready having an impact on prices and is exacerbated,as you will have no doubt have noticed, by rapidlychanging weather patterns. I am a historian, not aneconomist, but it is plain to me that responding tothese problems with a "business as usual" approachtowards our pursuit of Gross Domestic Product (GDP)growth offers only short-term relief, not a long-termcure. Why? Because I cannot see how we can possiblymaintain the growth of GDP in the long term if wecontinue to consume our planet as voraciously as weare doing. We have to see that there is a directrelationship between the resilience of Nature'secosystems and the resilience of our nationaleconomies. And, let us not forget, it is on thatresilience that our future prosperity actually depends.I know there is a great deal of debate about themeaning of resilience. I cannot help but think it meansan ability to absorb, repel and adapt to external shocksand without it we have very little, if any, capacity formitigation and adaptation. If the fabric of the Earth'slife support system fragments, if those systemsbecome weak or even collapse - essentially, if Nature'scapital loses its innate resilience - then how long doesit take for our economic capital and economic systemsto lose their resilience too?A graphic example of this is found in the fate of theworld's rainforests. Having already felled or burned athird of the world's tropical rainforests in the last fiftyyears, six million hectares of rainforest continue todisappear every year. That, of course, is the equivalentarea of nearly 24,000 football pitches every day! Andwith them go tens of thousands of species of plant andanimal into extinction, together with who knows howmany vital cures and medicines and innovativebiomimetic solutions to the problem we are facing.And because the trees are not there to transfer billionsof tonnes of water to the atmosphere, so the world'sweather patterns are disrupted which, in turn, seriouslyundermines the stability of food production. So, yousee, burning a hectare of rainforest has a direct impactupon the livelihoods of many communities and, thus,a direct impact on economic growth and prosperity atBUILDING A LOW-CARBON PROSPERITY046SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENTIHRH THE PRINCE OF WALESIllustration: shutterstock.com?