Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Advancing a Degrowth Agenda in the Corona Crisis

Panel debate

The aim of this panel is to evaluate and discuss degrowth and it’s strategies in direct relation to the current corona crisis. We want to understand how the degrowth community responded so far to the crisis and how degrowth was and is present in recent discussions. The goal is then to identify potential pathways, but also barriers, for bringing forward the degrowth agenda in this time of upheaval. We invited speakers affiliated to different degrowth bodies to evaluate pros and cons of structural changes in the degrowth community and its organization and to discuss concrete ideas of responding to the corona crisis, using the windows that opend up.

Facilitator: Iris Frey
Speakers: Stefania Barca, Matthias Schmelzer, Andro Rilović, Eeva Houtbeckers

Technical details: Corona_Panel.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 607.5MB

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First North-South Conference on Degrowth-Descrecimiento, México City 2018 – Ética biocultural y educación para revalorar los vínculos vitales entre los co-habitantes, sus hábitos y hábitats

El modelo conceptual de las 3Hs ofrece un marco heurístico para evaluar las consecuencias que proyectos de dearrollo actuales o futuros podrían tener para los hábitos de vida, el bienestar de los co-habitantes y la conservación de los hábitats.

First North-South Conference on Degrowth-Descrecimiento, México City 2018 – La cultura cafetalera como estrategia para decrecer

Esta presentación explica los retos y las acciones del sector cafetalero hacía el descrecimiento.

Swimming upstream: community economies for a different coastal rural development in Sweden

The EU Blue Growth agenda is being implemented at a time when European coastal fisheries and traditional fishing communities are struggling to survive or have already vanished from areas where they used to flourish. Driven by the strong conviction that current disadvantaged and vulnerable coastal fishers still have a central role to play in rural development, local level initiatives are calling for a different future for this fishery sector. The participants in these initiatives insist that coastal fisheries should not be driven to extinction, despite their low economic profitability and thus minimal contribution to economic growth compared to large-scale enterprises. Through participatory observation and informal interviews, we investigate one of these local level initiatives on the Swedish Baltic Sea coast and analyse how it aligns with a community economies’ project based on a different economic perspective. We describe first the primary activities carried out by the initiative and follow by an examination on what drove it, how it has been maintained, and how it might spread. We conclude on the potentials of the community economies framework and project to advance a Blue degrowth agenda based on difference and not necessarily less.

Sustainability Science, vol. 15, 2020

Enacting Community Economies within a welfare state

The Nordic welfare states, despite their history of successful welfare generation, have recently experienced a penetration of capitalist market relations to ever new spheres of life. Also their failure to create ecologically sustainable welfare models has been undeniable.

Simultaneously, community economies have emerged as a source of ideas and practices on what ‘the economy’ fundamentally could signify. In their multiple manifestations, community economies are about enacting the economy differently, on a grassroots level.

Yet community economies have typically not been analysed as inspirations and challenges to the future of the welfare state. This is despite that, to some extent, they share the same ethos with Nordic welfare states, based on the values of universalism and decommodification.

This book presents a number of empirical case studies of community economies in the context of a Nordic welfare state to better understand the potential of community economies and the interaction and friction with state governance, and more generally the conditions in which community economies and Nordic welfare states can co-exist and cooperate.

Could a Nordic welfare state be an enabling platform for community economies to diffuse? And could community economies show the welfare states a future based on decommodification and respect of the ecological limits?

The authors of the book are Finnish academics with an activist leaning, representing a number of different academic disciplines.

Degrowth Conference Budapest, 2016 – Non-Monetary Degrowth is Strategically Significant

Presentation by Anitra Nelson

Even for many radical adherents of degrowth, money is a common-sense — not simply capitalist — tool, so alternative currencies and banks abound. This paper argues against this common-sense logic, as follows. The most direct and efficient form of degrowth requires as-local-as-is-feasible production focusing on people’s basic needs, implying that future distribution is decided simultaneously with collectively agreeing on productive goals and ways of achieving them. Say, each person contributes a number of hours to collective production as a community obligation and, in return, has their basic needs met. Decision-making focuses on bio-physical, environmental and social measures and values; complex bio-physical and social efficiency is paramount in limiting throughput in production and associated exchanges. As a result, money has no place in degrowth, where grassroots political decision-making replaces production for trade and market exchanges. Similarly, so-called ‘alternative’ currencies that serve functions of legal tender or the ‘universal equivalent’ on which capitalism depends, are redundant. In non-monetary degrowth, reward for work is the security of having life-long basic needs met with continuous input in making decisions on both local production and the terms of exchange (compacts) with as-local-as-feasible neighbour-producers. There is personal, but no private, property: the entire Earth is commons with clear, efficient and universal principles and terms for commoning. Such a vision suggests that advancing specifically non-monetary degrowth — consciously breaking with monetary production and exchange — is of crucial strategic significance.

Over 300 ‘How to Guides’ to Help You Share More in Your Community

A list of over 300 manuals for living a post-growth life.

How to start a repair café?

Shareable’s guide to setting up a repair café.

Mapping and Analyzing Ecological Distribution Conflicts in Andean Countries

The extractive sector is increasingly important in the GDP and export basket of the four Andean countries under study (ACs) (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia). The analysis of an updated inventory of 296 environmental conflicts in the EJAtlas for these four countries reaches the following conclusions: extractivism causes environmental conflicts related to mining, fossil fuels, hydropower and biomass; indigenous, Afro-descendant and peasant communities are the most affected; behind the conflicts, there are not only environmental impacts but also social impacts that concern livelihoods, land deprivation and work insecurity, and also loss of cultural practices and cultural identity; most of the forms of collective action used in protests are peaceful, most notably petitions, street marches, media activism, lawsuits, while States and companies criminalize activists and are often violent (with about 75 cases in which there are deaths or disappearance of environmental defenders); socio-environmental movements (that sometimes include environmental NGOs) have achieved relative success, stopping 59 of the 296 conflict-generating projects and giving birth to new forms of resistance. While successfully stopping single projects cannot be construed as a general critique of economic growth, such attempts are congruent with post-development, community-centric, ecologically-balanced and culturally-sensitive Andean visions such as buen vivir or sumak kawsay. They are also congruent with policy proposals put forward from a post-economic growth perspective such as “leaving unburnable fuels in the ground” and “resource extraction caps”.

Ecological Economics, vol. 157, March 2019, pp. 80-91

This is not an atlas: a global collection of counter-cartographies

“Maps articulate statements that are shaped by social relations, discourses and practices, but these statements also influence them in turn. Hence, maps (and atlases) are always political. “In this interplay between facts and perception, the cartographer is both witness and actor. […] In order to create, or, more accurately: to invent, “his worlds”, he finally arrives at a subtle mixture of the world as it is, and the world he desires” (Rekacewicz 2006). Thus, many of the maps presented in this volume are full of “ifs”, “buts” and question marks but also of desired worlds.”
(from the Editorial)

Governance from below and environmental justice: Community water management from the perspective of social metabolism

The Mexican neoliberal political regime created a hegemonic governance model (top-down) which has tried to impose a single definition for the rules of the distribution of the costs and benefits (environmental and economic) related to the appropriation of “natural resources” (fossil fuels, forests, mineral, water, genetic). Social metabolism is a framework that highlights the contribution of indigenous communities in their struggles to build a movement of environmental justice and austerity (a regionally sensitive alternative to degrowth). By forging an indigenous communitarian identity, known as comunalidad in the Sierra Juárez of Oaxaca, they are forging a new form of “bottom-up” governance. We designed key components and indicators to understand the social metabolism related to three policy objectives: a) local governance; b) reducing water vulnerability; and c) social justice. Heterodox perspectives by Marx and Illich enrich the analysis. The analysis emphasizes the importance of the social control of the “tools” needed to protect their communities and their heritage, transforming the institutions that were imposed on them. The approach is critical for constructing a research program in “ecological economics from below.”

Ecological Economics, vol. 160, June 2019, pp. 52-61

Need, Entitlement and Desert: A Distributive Justice Framework for Consumption Degrowth

Post-growth societies seek socio-ecological transformations towards a just and sustainable redistribution and reduced consumption of natural capital. There is no one universally just and ecologically sustainable way of fulfilling these redistribution and consumption objectives; it depends on the criteria used and their underlying ethical teleology. We suggest three distribution criteria, borrowed from the foundations of the Environmental Justice (EJ) movement: need, entitlement and desert. By juxtaposing and problematising the needs, entitlements and deserts of nature and society, these criteria comprise an ethical framework for consumption Degrowth praxis in communities. We present arguments for how each distribution criterion fulfils the aims articulated in the Degrowth corpus. Based on these arguments, we propose seven justice-based community action principles for redistribution under Degrowth. In our discussion of these derived principles, we demonstrate that, like EJ, Degrowth seeks consequential as well as deontological justice, underscoring their deep complementarity. Therefore, our Need-Entitlement-Desert framework may serve as a useful guiding frame to include ethical distribution considerations in societies’ pursuit of post-growth futures.

Ecological Economics, vol. 156, February 2019, pp. 327-336

The nowtopia of the riverbank: Elder environmental activism

Abstract: Degrowth imaginaries offer alternative ways of envisioning future societies. Those, predominantly working age and working class people, seeking to purposefully enact degrowth in the here and now are termed ‘nowtopians’. Based on empirical work undertaken along the River Adur valley in West Sussex, UK, this paper argues that dynamic examples of nowtopian initiatives can develop from alternative and overlooked demographics, such as rural community elders. Explored through a series of interlinking activist narratives, orientated around collective responses to changing riverbank environments, this paper argues that the genesis of this elder activism is a desire to re-assert agency in older age that can be linked to degrowth sensibilities. Contending with the new realities of living under ‘austerity localism’, many of these elders have undergone a personal, if not political, epiphany and have turned to forms of environmental activism to articulate their agency and demonstrate solidarity with fellow humans across generations. This paper argues that these elder nowtopians champion direct action, conviviality and living well. Ageing and place connectivity are the motivators which underpin one of the key nowtopian concepts: ‘redefining life’s purpose’. Reflecting back, projecting forward, but operating in the ‘now’, these elders help us to consider a ‘politics’ of degrowth through grassroots activism along a rural river catchment.

Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space, August 2019

An Anarchism for Today: The Simpler Way

Abstract: A sustainable and just world cannot be achieved without enormous structural and cultural change. The argument presented below is that when our situation is understood in terms of resource and ecological limits, it is evident firstly that getting rid of capitalism is not sufficient. A satisfactory alternative society cannot be highly industrialised or centralised, and it must involve highly self-sufficient local economies and largely self-governing communities that prioritise cooperation and participation. Above all, there must be degrowth to a far lower GDP per capita than that exists in rich countries today, with a concomitant embracing of very frugal material “living standards.” Only a basically anarchist society can meet these conditions satisfactorily. Secondly, given this goal the transition to it can only be achieved via an anarchist strategy. Both these themes point to the need for substantial rethinking of essential elements in mainstream socialist and Marxist theory.

Capitalism Nature Socialism, June 2018

Detroit Open City

Blog article about Detroit and its possible development in the future