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As a consequence of global urban competition, shrinkage is becoming the norm for an increasing number of urban and rural places in industrialised countries. The most acute shrinkage often exists in small rural communities which have experienced sustained depopulation and the resultant decline of economic, environmental and social functions. In Japan, for instance, about one-third of the 1,700 municipalities may disappear by 2040. What kind of degrowth development approach can enhance the resilience of shrinking communities, where negative growth is the unavoidable reality? Cittaslow (Slow City) is a rising rural revitalisation movement, which does not necessarily deny economic growth, but decouples development from growth and sets sustainability as its top priority. This paper evaluates the potential of Cittaslow as a positive degrowth approach for the community resilience of shrinking towns, employing the adaptive cycle model in evolutionary resilience as the analytical framework. It investigates the characteristics of the regeneration activities – the adaptive cycles to address shrinkage – in Japanese shrinking towns (Minami and Uchiko) and demographically decreasing Cittaslow member towns in Germany (Hersbruck and Wirsberg) and in Italy (Pollica and Altomonte).
In my presentation, I indicate an inertia of local government, weak employment creation, an absence of residents’ participation and the discreteness of activities as key inhibitors of the adaptive cycles in the Japanese towns. I then discuss the potential as well as the limitation of Cittaslow to effect these inhibitors and activate the adaptive cycles for their better community resilience.

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This media entry was a contribution to the special session „Evaluation of the Slow City Approach as a Degrowth Strategy for Shrinking Communities“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.