Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Degrowing the food sector: how to build democratic food policies

Panel debate

The aim of the panel is to develop a common understanding of how a socially and ecologically sustainable food systems can look like. To achieve this, we draw on existing practices and strategies of local and regional initiatives which promote sustainable food systems. There exists already a variety of collectives, networks, and food system approaches, which create opportunities and offer tangible examples and visions of what a degrowth society could look like. These initiatives offer examples, which contribute to a democratic food system and from which we can learn. The guiding question of the panel is therefore to what extend strategies used by these initiatives can serve as a strategy for degrowth. Further questions to be addressed are: As part of a democratic food policy, how can the initiatives be strengthened and up-scaled? What (else) does a democratic food policy need to contain and how can this be achieved? What keeps us locked into the current unsustainable food systems and what strategies are needed to overcome these lock-ins/barriers?

To discuss these questions, Olivier De Schutter will introduce, in a first step, insights from the IPES-Food report and relate them to the degrowth debate. His keynote will be complemented with concrete examples, covering different spatial scales – the urban, regional and the European. More concretely, Line Rise Nielsen from the institution “Changing Food – Copenhagen Food System Centre” will present an urban strategy of counselling the city. Armin Bernhard will describe a regional strategy drawing on his experience of a citizen’s cooperative in Mals (South Tyrol) and Genevieve Savigny from the European Coordination La Via Campesina will explain the role of social and peasant movements struggles for a democratic agricultural and trade policies on the European Union’s level.

Facilitator: Julianna Fehlinger – ÖBV-Via Campesina Austria

Speakers: Olivier De Schutter (Professor at UCLouvain, Belgium, and SciencesPo. Paris), Genevieve Savigny (European Coordination Via Campesina and member of the European Economic and Social Committee), Armin Bernhard (Activist and professor at the University of Bozen), Line Rise Nielsen (Food Policy Director of the Copenhagen Food System Centre)

Language: English with German translation

Technical details: food_panel.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 465MB

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Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Knowledge production for degrowth


We offer a workshop focused on our needs in terms of knowledge production in a society turned towards degrowth. We will highlight the work of fifty researchers, activists and students on the production of an alternative research scenario, called Horizon Earth. The workshop will revolve around four phases of presentation and discussion : The research scenario’s development and objectives, and three moments devoted to each of our research topics : 1) Health, 2) Food and Agriculture 3) Energy, Housing and Mobility. It will be a great opportunity to listen to your feedbacks on the presented research areas and narratives.

Presenters: Camille Besombes (Sciences Citoyennes, Institut Pasteur), Maura Benegiamo (Collège d’études mondiales, Politics Ontology Ecology), Fabrice Flipo (Sciences Citoyennes, Institut Mines-Télécom), Madina Querre (REVeSS, PACTE Grenoble), François Briens (Sciences Citoyennes, International Energy Agency), Paul Lacoste (HALEM (inhabitants of temporary and mobile homes), Simon Grudet (Sciences Citoyennes), Aude Lapprand (Sciences Citoyennes), Maëlle Frétigné (Sciences Citoyennes)

Language: English

Technical details: WS A8_Knowledge Production for Degrowth.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 119MB

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First North-South Conference on Degrowth-Descrecimiento, México City 2018 – La vía campesina y la soberanía alimentaria

Conferencia de la Plenaria del Miércoles por Alberto Gómez: “La vía campesina y la Soberanía alimentaria”

Jevons’ paradox and a tax on aviation to prevent the next pandemic

How is it possible that, in an era of unprecedented medical progress, humanity is once again caught in a major pandemic? Several lines of evidence suggest that advances in infectious diseases control facilitate the development of major urban centers, global high-speed transportation, industrial animal farming and ecosystem destruction. In turn, all of these are well known to favor such diseases, thus reproducing the same kind of dynamic previously observed in resource consumption and known as “Jevons’ paradox”. Such economic developments compel health systems to develop continuously just to maintain the improvements that had already been achieved, which, furthermore, became more difficult with the generalization of neoliberal policies. In this process, progresses whose primary purpose is to benefit everybody’s health are transmuted into benefits for those involved in certain economic activities. This is especially apparent in the case of long-haul aviation, a profitable activity aimed mainly at a high-income minority but playing a unique role in disease transmission. The COVID-19 pandemic is, therefore, one of the most massive cost-shifting events ever. A proposal is presented to prevent comparable if not even more harmful events in the future, with two parts. First, a global fund with base funding from an internationally-agreed tax on aviation, devoted to upgrading health systems and to programs to tackle sources of emerging infectious diseases, especially wild animal trade. Second and no less important, a global agreement to fundamentally transform agri-food systems.

First North-South Conference on Degrowth-Descrecimiento, México City 2018 – Un criterio para la defensa de los maices originarios como patrimonio biocultural

Con base en reflexiones hechas sobre las diferencias entre los policultivos que permiten la reproducción de los maíces originarios y los monocultivos de maíces transgénicos, se propone un criterio general que nos permita diferenciar entre las prácticas culturales que podemos patrimonializar de aquellas que no. Este criterio es la posibilidad de reproducir la vida en su diversidad biológica y cultural, criterio que depende de las relaciones sociales que se concretan en prácticas culturales guiadas por valores.

First North-South Conference on Degrowth-Descrecimiento, México City 2018 – Waste as wealth: Edinburgh’s Shurb coop

This presentation explains what the SHRUB coop does to reduce & re-use “waste”, to educate the public, and to create community.

Designing sustainability in blues: the limits of technospatial growth imaginaries

In the midst of a global food crisis, the late 2000s saw tensions between rising food prices and demands for biofuels coalesce into a “food versus fuel” debate. In response to ensuing public outcries, governmental agencies, and researchers across the globe began mobilizing around alternative biofuel feedstock. Among these materials, algae emerged as the most “hopeful” sustainable alternative in producing biofuels. This article examines algal biofuel production systems designed offshore and integrated with wastewater treatment and carbon dioxide absorption processes to revitalize faith in biofuels in the blue economy. It discusses what makes algal biofuels sustainable by examining the ways practitioners talk about and design these integrated systems. Against the common refrain that algae’s photosynthetic and reproductive capacity makes these systems sustainable, this article underlines that there is nothing natural, innate, about algae to add to sustainable blue economies. Rather, algae become naturalized as biofuel source and bioremediation technologies through technoscientific discourses and interventions, which embed and reproduce anthropocentric approach to sustainability that centers on the ideology of growth. By drawing particular attention to the ways that integrated algal biofuel production systems depend on the constant generation of industrial waste, this article problematizes anthropocentric sustainability imaginaries and claims for imagining sustainability otherwise through the lens of blue degrowth to create a radical socio-ecological change.

Sustainability Science, vol. 15, 2020

Blue Growth and its discontents in the Faroe Islands: an island perspective on Blue (De)Growth, sustainability, and environmental justice

Blue Growth is promoted as an important strategy for future food security, and sustainable harvesting of marine resources. This paper aims to identify dominating ideologies and strategies of Blue Growth in the Faroe Islands, mainly regarding salmon farming and industrial capture fisheries, and to investigate how these ideologies materialize in the social metabolism of Faroese society. The analysis approaches the Faroese Blue Economy from a holistic perspective using analytical concepts and frameworks of social (island) metabolism, environmental justice and degrowth to assess how current Blue Growth strategies pertain to long-term sustainability and human well-being. It offers a critical analysis of aquaculture in the Faroe Islands and shows that although the rhetoric around Blue Growth is framed within mainstreamed sustainability discourse, the ideologies and visions underpinning current Blue Growth strategies result in a continuation of conventional growth through the exploitation of new commodity frontiers. Finally, the negative consequences of Blue Growth are assessed and discussed through a mapping of recent and ongoing social and ecological distribution conflicts in the Faroes.

Sustainability Science, vol. 15, 2020

Food self-provisioning as an answer to the metabolic rift: The case of ‘Dacha Resilience’ in Estonia

Abstract: Agriculture is not only an essential nexus between society and nature but in its current industrial form also a possible threat to ecological stability. This article explores how a supplement to the conventional agrifood system alleviates the negative consequences of the industrial food production system that manifest through the metabolic rift (Marx, 1981). During fieldwork in Estonia ten semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted to analyze the practice of Food Self-Provisioning (FSP) in (peri-)urban dachas – a Russian term for a plot of land with a seasonal allotment house, mostly used for food production.
Using McClintock’s (2010) three-dimensional framework of metabolic rift that consists of ecological, social and individual dimensions, we demonstrate how FSP not only contributes to mending all these rifts but also increases resilience on various levels. As a region-specific practice of “quiet sustainability” (Smith and Jehlička, 2013) it displays an environmentally friendly alternative to the conventional agrifood system and serves as a strong example of sufficiency and moral economy. Furthermore, by its practice it not only challenges the continuous commodification process of ‘fictitious commodities’, such as land, labor and food (Polanyi, 2001; McClintock, 2010), but it defies market logic in general. Therefore, this article proposes FSP as a viable, but largely underestimated and even stigmatized, model of alternative sustainability, already widely practiced in post-socialist Europe.

Journal of Rural Studies, Volume 68, May 2019, Pages 75-86

10 Milliarden – Wie werden wir alle satt?

Bis 2050 wird die Weltbevölkerung auf zehn Milliarden Menschen anwachsen. Doch wo soll die Nahrung für alle herkommen? Kann man Fleisch künstlich herstellen? Sind Insekten die neue Proteinquelle? Oder baut jeder bald seine eigene Nahrung an?

Regisseur, Bestseller-Autor und Food-Fighter Valentin Thurn sucht weltweit nach Lösungen. Auf der Suche nach einer Antwort auf die Frage, wie wir verhindern können, dass die Menschheit durch die hemmungslose Ausbeutung knapper Ressourcen die Grundlage für ihre Ernährung zerstört, erkundet er die wichtigsten Grundlagen der Lebensmittelproduktion. Er spricht mit Machern aus den gegnerischen Lagern der industriellen und der bäuerlichen Landwirtschaft, trifft Biobauern und Nahrungsmittelspekulanten, besucht Laborgärten und Fleischfabriken.

Ohne Anklage, aber mit Gespür für Verantwortung und Handlungsbedarf macht der Film klar, dass es nicht weitergehen kann wie bisher.


Speiseräume: die Ernährungswende beginnt in der Stadt

Die Berliner verzehren in der Woche geschätzte 34 000 Tonnen feste Nahrungsmittel, im Ruhrgebiet sind es 49 000 Tonnen. Bildlich kaum vorstellbare Mengen – man fragt sich, wo kommt das alles her und wie kommt es in die Stadt? Und man fragt sich, wieso wir es für so selbstverständlich halten, dass es da ist: Alles – quasi 24 Stunden am Tag, 7 Tage die Woche. Die Stadt macht sich keine Gedanken über ihre Ernährung. Doch egal ob Metropole oder Kleinstadt, jede Stadt hängt in ihrem Bestehen von Lebensmittel, den Produkten der Landwirtschaft ab.
Welche Probleme das erzeugt, welche Chancen das hat und wie wir es für eine nachhaltige Entwicklung der Stadt einsetzen können, davon soll dieses Buch berichten.
(Beschreibung des Verlags)

Blog “Speiseräume”

ISBN-13: 9783865816702

Die Zeit ist reif für Ernährungssouveränität

Alle Menschen müssen essen. Das Recht auf Nahrung steht allen Menschen zu und doch wird es vielen verwehrt. Um die Zukunft der Ernährung wird derzeit heftig gerungen. Weltweit treten soziale Bewegungen für Ernährungssouveränität ein: Eine „Welt ohne Hunger“, das Gute Leben für alle ist die Perspektive.
Das erste globale Nyeleni-Forum zu Ernährungssouveränität fand 2007 in Mali statt. Deutlich wurde damals die Notwendigkeit, dass es auch in Europa eine starke Bewegung braucht, da gerade hier großer Veränderungsbedarf besteht. Deshalb fand 2011 in Österreich das erste europäische Nyeleni-Forum statt. Um die Bewegung für Ernährungssouveränität weiter zu stärken wird von 13. – 17. April 2014 das erste österreichische Forum für Ernährungssouveränität in Goldegg (Salzburg) statt finden.(www.ernährungssouveränitä In diesem Kontext entstand auch diese überarbeitete, aktualisierte und erweiterte 2. Auflage der Broschüre. Sie soll die bestehenden Bewegungen bei uns sichtbar machen und zur Reflexion und zum Austausch beitragen.
Wir hoffen, dass diese Sammlung von Ideen, Ansatzpunkten und Alternativen spannende Einblicke ermöglicht, Horizonte erweitert und nicht zuletzt auch motiviert. Auf den letzten Seiten befinden sich darum einige Literaturhinweise und Links zum weiterlesen, vernetzen und aktiv werden. Ein großes Dankeschön möchten wir den Autor*innen der Artikel aussprechen, welche allesamt als Bäuerinnen und Bauern, Aktivist*innen oder Wissenschafter*innen aus der Bewegung für Ernährungssouveränität kommen oder ihr nahe stehen. Auch bei der Layouterinnen und der Grafikerin möchten wir uns für die kreative Gestaltung bedanken. Wir bedanken uns natürlich auch bei den Unterstützer*innen (siehe Impressum) und der Bundesvertretung der ÖH für die finanzielle Unterstützung.

Boom Crops / EnvJustice Vocabulary – Juan Liu

Juan Liu, ICTA-UAB, explains the term “Boom Crops” and the experience of China with peculiar boom crops, such as sugar cane and eucalyptus.

Youtube-channel EnvJustice Vocabulary

Enough is as good as a feast: here’s how we can imagine a brighter food future

Introduction: The World Economic Forum’s 2017 report on the future of food examines what the world’s food systems might look like in 2030. But none of the four future scenarios it presents is particularly attractive.

To create a world where everyone can eat well without wrecking the planet, we need better ideas, a rich imagination and the right tools.

Degrowth, organic agriculture and GMOs: A reply to Gomiero

Abstract: This paper is a critical response to Gomiero’s (2017, JCLEPRO) analysis of the links between degrowth and agriculture. It is argued that Gomiero’s contribution is timely and important, and he makes a number of important points, especially regarding the naivety of some degrowth proposals that amount to romanticising organic agriculture. However, Gomiero’s criticism of GM crops, which he contrasts with organic agriculture, is partly outdated and partly misguided. This reply thus presents a different interpretation of the potential of modern green biotechnology, including its possible compatibility with organic agriculture.

Journal of Cleaner Production: Volume 168, 1 December 2017, Pages 904-907

Response to “Agriculture and degrowth: State of the art and assessment of organic and biotech-based agriculture from a degrowth perspective“.