This article re-examines a contested chapter in the international and environmental history of the 1970s. Even though largely neglected by historical research and in the public memory, the Club of Rome – widely remembered for its 1972 report The limits to growth – was not only born within the OECD, but was also in its early period strongly influenced by debates within this think tank of the industrialized countries. Using previously overlooked sources, this article analyses this highly unlikely OECD–Club of Rome nexus. It not only offers a privileged view into the social history of international policy-making and the related personal entanglements and ideological transfers at a key moment of post-war history. It also demonstrates that the social, intellectual, and economic turmoil of the late 1960s prompted a rethinking of the economic growth paradigm, even within those technocratic institutions that had aspired to guide the post-war industrial growth regime. The article argues that these links are not only vital for our understanding of the relationship between acquisitive growth capitalism and environmentalism, but also enable a more profound understanding of the role of transnational networks in global history and the appreciation of the place of the 1970s in world history.
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