Welcome to our blog which aims to shed light on different aspects of the degrowth discourses and movement. In our older articles, there are also impressions and news from events such as the 2015 summer school on climate justice and the 2014 Degrowth conference. If you would like to comment on or contribute to the blog, please contact us at email@example.com.
What could an alliance of techies and greens bring for a social, democratic and ecological future? The conference “Bits and Trees” (“Bits & Bäume” in German), which took place in Berlin on November 17th and 18th of this year, tried to shed light on this question. It brought together around 1.700 people interested and organized around digitalization and sustainability.
Merely the name of the conference says a lot about the organizers’ intention to foster mutual debate and new alliances. The idea came from the observation that despite a widespread interest in both digitalisation and sustainability, there are very few occasions to discuss what these two concepts have to do with each other. The conference was an attempt to address this issue, by setting up a first gathering between communities which share many goals but are not yet working together on a regular basis.read more
At the COP24 conference in Poland, countries are aiming to finalise the implementation plan for the 2015 Paris Agreement. The task has extra gravity in the wake of the recent IPCC report declaring that we have just 12 years to take the action needed to limit global warming to that infamous 1.5ᵒC target.read more
We live nextdoor to my partner’s grandmother, Maria, who was born during the Second World War in Northern Italy. This means that she knows what hard times look like. Maria could not believe we would be using washable diapers for our baby boy. With genuine surprise she asked me, “why?”, and then she was curious in which pot we were planning to boil the diapers. In her eyes, we could not possibly be choosing to use washable diapers – to her, an extinct garment reminiscent of poverty and manual labour – when there exists the comfort of the disposable. Therefore, it must be that we cannot afford disposable diapers. Needless to say, for the first six months of our son’s life, every time Maria went to the supermarket, she bought us a packet of disposable diapers.
Economic growth can’t reduce inequalities; it merely postpones confronting exploitation.
The emergence of interest in degrowth can be traced back to the 1st International Degrowth Conference organized in Paris in 2008. At this conference, degrowth was defined as a “voluntary transition towards a just, participatory, and ecologically sustainable society,” so challenging the dogma of economic growth. Another five international conferences were organized between 2010 and 2018, with the latest in Malmö in August.
“When you told your friends and family you were going to a degrowth gathering, they asked, ‘What is degrowth?’ How did you respond?”
The 2018 degrowUS gathering from September 28-30 2018 in Chicago began with this question. The first day’s thirty-odd attendees wrote their responses on sticky notes as they scraped the last bites of lunch off the dishes the event’s organizers had told them to bring from home.read more
Environmental protection is needed because we take useful things out of nature and put useless or harmful things back in. The resulting depletion and pollution have reached harmful, unsustainable levels. We know that voluntary behaviour change, led by an elite that encourages, fosters and politely ‘nudges’ the masses, won’t do it. Legislated solutions are needed on the principle of ‘I will if you also have to’.
Degrowth: lost in plurality?
There seems to exist a gap in the degrowth discourse around the question of how to move towards a degrowth society. This brings to our attention an important concept – that of strategy. Here, we will use the word ‘strategy’ to refer to how the ends (i.e. a degrowth society) is achieved by the means. Having spent a number of years probing into the degrowth discourse and literature, we found it to be seemingly open to all strategies for pursuing radical transformation towards a socially and ecologically sustainable degrowth society. However, there is little debate on which strategy – or mix of strategies – might be more effective in different contexts (geographical, institutional, sectoral, cultural, etc.). Therefore, we argue that degrowth’s articulation of how the ends can be achieved by the means, can roughly be characterised by a ‘strategic indeterminance’.
This and many other questions around European politics were discussed at the first Post-growth conference, which took place at the EU Parliament on September 18 and 19. Hosted by ten Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from five party families, it attracted around 600 people to Brussels. Through panel (and solely panel) discussions, they engaged in debates around economic models, technology, climate policies, eco-suffiency vs. -effiencieny, basic income, wage bargaining, financial regulation, trade, taxes, money and markets. The debates between members of the European Commission and scientists or NGO representatives were always facilitated by a MEP.read more
Please find below a text published in The Guardian and also in several European Countries. More than 200 academics call on the European Union and its member states to plan for a post-growth future in which human and ecological wellbeing is prioritised over GDP. More than 78,000 people already singed the petition “Europe, It’s Time to End the Growth Dependency”
This week, scientists, politicians, and policymakers are gathering in Brussels for a landmark conference. The aim of this event, organised by members of the European parliament from five different political groups, alongside trade unions and NGOs, is to explore possibilities for a “post-growth economy” in Europe.read more
Degrowth stands for moving beyond the paradigm of the growth- and profit-oriented economic system. By means of a social-ecological transformation, a good life for all can be achieved. This means overcoming the imperial way of living of the global North, building alternatives, and creating positive narratives of our possible future. This also includes resisting useless large-scale projects, privatizations, and destructive enterprises – in short, against the part of the economy that is supposed to shrink because its negative effects on the environment and society are out of proportion to its benefits.
Last week, from the 21st until the 25th of August 2018, the 6th International Degrowth Conference for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity took place in Malmö, Sweden. It was organized by an international group and the newly formed Institutet för nerväxtstudier (Institute for degrowth studies). Around 800 people discussed about “Dialogues in turbulent times”. This article will give you a concise account of the conference and some reviews of selected plenary sessions from the perspective of the blog – team.
This year we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the first international degrowth conference in Paris, 18-19 April 2008. This event introduced the originally French activist slogan décroissance into the English-speaking world and international academia as degrowth. This year we celebrate with three conferences: the current one in Malmö, the one in Mexico City from 3 to 7 September and at the Post-Growth conference at the European Parliament in Brussels on 18 and 19 September. How did we get there?read more
Permaculture and degrowth are both movements whose foundational ideas were developed the 70’s, just as the evidence was amassing in the science world to be able to explain the consequences of unchecked growth and human-induced environmental degradation. As such, both movements are reactionary and propose a radical, ethics-based paradigm shift away from the globally dominant culture of over-consumption, towards a systems-based approach to sustainability and regeneration of both the social and ecological spheres.read more
When it comes to technological development, I often hear the words: What can be done will be done – sooner or later. Many people think that technological development follows a path directed by quasi-natural laws that head into one and only one direction – called “progress” – which is: to use more technology, more complex technology, more expensive technology, more powerful technology. Now, if this were true, if everything that is technologically feasible will be done one day, humankind and the planet are finished. The detonation of thousands of nuclear warheads and the unleashing of artificial killer creatures manufactured by synthetic biology would wipe out life on earth. Sooner or later.read more
From a provocative activist slogan to an academic concept towards policy making
This year we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the first international degrowth conference in Paris (2008). This event introduced the originally French activist slogan décroissance into the English-speaking world and international academia as degrowth. I want to take stock of the last decade in terms of conferences, publications, training and more recently policy making. I focus only on the academic achievements in English, leaving on the side both activism and intellectual debates in other languages (these are huge, especially in French, Spanish, Italian and German). This is not because I think it is more important, but simply because it is the process in which I have been personally involved.read more