Synergies between the degrowth movement and the global ecovillage network

The primary question of this analysis relates to specific key issues fostering actual and potential synergies between the degrowth and the ecovillage movement. As analysis frame, first some distinctive perspectives around de-growth are introduced on the basis of interviews with experts of the Global South and the Global North. More than reinforcing the criticism of growth societies and conceiving new strategies for degrowth, the focus is set on the key issue of conviviality between alternative world-views attempting the transformation towards sustainable societies. In which way can the debate of European degrowth be considered the other side of the debate about Latin American post-extractivism?

Secondly, the bridges of collaboration created between intentional communities by the global ecovillage network are studied by selected Good-Practice examples on both sides of the Atlantic. One key issue investigated here are practices and experiences of self-empowerment. A particular focus will be given to processes of self-empowerment based on community building concepts and methods developed by intentional communities. In which way can these specific processes of self-empowerment contribute to the degrowth movement?

Thirdly, another key issue to be considered relates to combining different patterns of knowledge as scientific and activist knowledge. How can scientists and activists nurture each other’s field of experience and knowledge unifying their efforts to support the degrowth and ecovillage movement? A final prospect will address the new qualities that the degrowth and the ecovillage movement offer in the transformation process towards diverse sustainable futures.

First North-South Conference on Degrowth-Descrecimiento, México City 2018 – Culturas, entre Norte y Sur Global: reflexiones sistémicas hacia una transición socio-económica

Conferencia de la Plenaria del Miércoles por Silvio Cristiano: “Culturas, entre Norte y Sur Global. Reflexiones sistémicas hacia una transición socio-económica”

Unlearning: From Degrowth to Decolonization

In Unlearning: From Degrowth to Decolonization, Jamie Tyberg makes a timely intervention into the degrowth discussions, reorienting degrowth as a means to an end, that end being decolonization. Through the lens of the Green New Deal, and later the Red Deal, Tyberg ties together theory and real life examples highlighting how degrowth is, can, and must be, part of the post-COVID-19 response. Both an overview and review of the degrowth literature and an analysis of how degrowth can be utilized critically, Tyberg instructs us how we can use degrowth principles to strive and push for a true decolonized future, one we need to achieve.

(Abstract by Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung)

Sold Futures? The Global Availability of Metals and Economic Growth at the Peripheries: Distribution and Regulation in a Degrowth Perspective


In recent years, the strategic role certain metals play is seen as central to the
geopolitics promulgated by state agents in the North. While a switch to renewable energy
and an increase in energy efficiency might be instrumental to reducing dependence on
fossil energy, it increases dependence on metals. This paper starts from an analysis of
the likely availability of metals in the near future and then proceeds to investigate political
concerns raised by considering the geological fundamentals of social development at the
peripheries of the capitalist world-system. The inequality of metal stocks, future metal
requirements and the ensuing political challenges are investigated, taking copper as an
example. The final section is dedicated to the discussion of regulatory challenges in view
of multiple constraints on metal extraction. This section also highlights the preconditions
of a socially legitimate transition to a renewable energy system in the coming period of
socio-ecological transformation.

Authors keywords: crisis, resources, peak, copper, development

Environmental justice, degrowth and post-capitalist futures

Struggles for Environmental Justice, more widespread in the global South, are often framed as traditional societies defending “old ways of life”; while degrowth, a relatively new movement in the global North is seen as striving for a “new ways of life.” I argue that both assert or aspire for other ways of being and belonging to the world and open possibilities for post-capitalist futures. In this Commentary, I focus on ontological continuities between the two movements and the grounds for alliance building. I argue that EJ and degrowth movements need to not only learn from each other, but think with the actual practices on the ground and the epistemologies of the South to foster pluriversal world-making practices. Moreover, dialogues and alliance between the two movements can help to reconceptualize work and care in a post-production, post-growth world.

Ecological Economics, Vol. 163, September 2019, pp. 138-142

Crisis, liminality and the decolonization of the social imaginary

Abstract: The decolonization of the social imaginary has been proposed as an important dimension of the transition towards a degrowth society. However, although omnipresent in the degrowth literature, the terms “social imaginary” and “social imaginary significations” have not been adequately explained. This creates a level of mystification that limits the analytical value of the degrowth framework. In addition, there is very little theoretical work on how actual social imaginaries can be decolonized and transformed. This paper first tries to clarify those concepts. Subsequently, it develops a theoretical framework for explaining such transitions of the imaginary. In developing this framework, the paper focuses on moments of crisis, since crises have been historically associated with change and transition. It argues that crises are important because they destabilize social imaginaries and open up a stage of suspension—a liminal stage—in which the rise of new social practices can facilitate the emergence of new social imaginary significations and institutions that can contribute to the alteration of the social imaginary at large. The paper draws on case studies related to the Greek crisis, the biggest ever faced by a country of the Global North after the Second World War.

Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space, August 2019

Klimagerechtigkeit erklärt in Leichter Sprache

Was bedeutet Klimagerechtigkeit? In diesem Film erklären wir den Begriff „Klimagerechtigkeit“ in Leichter Sprache. Leichte Sprache richtet sich an Menschen, die Standardsprache nicht oder nur mit Mühe verstehen. Im Film werden die Begriffe Klimawandel, Globaler Norden, Globaler Süden und Klimagerechtigkeit leicht verständlich erklärt. Dabei skizzieren wir die Zusammenhänge zwischen Industrialierung, nationalem und persönlichem Reichtum, Klimaschuld und Klimagerechtigkeit. Persönliche Konsummuster (Mobilität, Waren, Essen, Wohnen) werden ebenso behandelt wie (trans-)nationale Aufgaben. Klimaschutz und Klimaausgleichszahlungen stellen wir als wichtigste Bedingungen für Klimagerechtigkeit heraus.

The illusion of “degrowth” in a poor and unequal world

Introduction to the article by the author: I have recently had Twitter and email discussions with a couple of people who are strong proponents of “degrowth”. From these exchanges I got the impression that there were unaware of just how unequal and poor (yes, poor) the world is today and what would be the trade-offs if we really were to decide to fix the volume of goods and services produced and consumed in the world at the current level.

This is just an attempt to present some back-of-the-envelope calculations that should be improved very much in a serious attempt to examine the alternatives.

This blog post started a discussion between Branko Milanovic and Jason Hickel. See the full chronology of the discussion below
Original blog post by Branko Milanovic “The illusion of “degrowth” in a poor and unequal world”
First reply by Jason Hickel “Why Branko Milanovic is wrong about de-growth”
Reply by Branko Milanovic “The illusion of degrowth: Part II”
Second Reply by Jason Hickel “De-growth is feasible: people want a new economy”

Entwicklung ist eine Fata Morgana

Interview mit Alberto Acosta, geführt von Matthias Schmelzer

Spätestens seit Geflüchtete im Sommer 2015 das europäische Grenzregime vorübergehend aus den Angeln gehoben haben, ist die Beschäftigung mit Fluchtursachen zu einem politischen Dauerbrenner avanciert. Dabei wird die Diskussion vor allem von Seiten der Regierungen und der Rechten geführt, mit dem Ziel, Migration von vornherein zu verhindern. Der ecuadorianische Wirtschaftswissenschaftler und Politiker Alberto Acosta fordert dagegen, Ursachen für Migration in den Verwerfungen des globalen Kapitalismus zu suchen – in den Auswirkungen, die die Lebensweise des Nordens auf die Länder des Südens hat.

THUR_19h // Alliances between Global North and Global South

Panel discussion at the 6th International Degrowth Conference for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Budapest in 2016.
Speakers: Miriam Lang, Edgardo Lander, Ashish Kothari, Beatriz Rodrígues-Labajos, Ulrich Brand

Degrowth proposals are largely debated within and for the Global North. Despite strong dynamics and orientations towards economic growth and Western-style development in certain countries of the Global South, concepts like „buen vivir“, ‘post-growth’, swaraj and radical ecological democracy, and underlying these a wide range of practical approaches have emerged. They are promoted by social movements, critical intellectuals and sometimes even by NGOs, small firms and progressive persons within the state bureaucracy. Possible alliances for degrowth and post-growth between the Global North and South are discussed in this panel.

Degrowth 2016 – English youtube channel

What are the degrowth implications for long-distance trade?

Degrowth has enjoyed an increasing attention in academia with more than 150 peer-reviewed publications over the last 8 years. Trade, however, remains a grey area. This article aims to explore the implications of degrowth for long-distance trade, using the multifaceted perspectives and disciplines which the term binds together. From a political ecology angle growth in the South has taken place at the cost of ‘dirty’ and material intensive production, allowing that richer countries specialize in clean/material extensive production. In terms of ecological economics the flow of primary commodities at the global level has been taking place from poor to rich countries, so that Southern (Northern) countries have become net exporters (importers) of primary products (Muradian and Martinez-Alier 2001). In terms of democracy/social justice there is a transfer of environmental costs from the Global North to the Global South (Martinez-Alier and O’Connor, 1996).
What proposals on trade could we imagine in the framework of degrowth, given it is impossible to talk about a reduction of long-distance trade without considering the diverse needs of export-dependent communities in the Global South, and reflect upon their imaginaries of social justice? It is impossible to talk about a reduction of long-distance trade without dealing with a number of internal contradictions (between consumption-based social status and concerns with environmental justice) of consumers in the Global North; or with the features of the external regime with its inherent structures of power. There is no single point of departure, but multiple (sometimes mutually contradictory) paths which merit exploration.

This media entry was a contribution to the special session „What are the degrowth implications for long-distance trade?“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.

Economic modelling and Degrowth

Degrowth calls for a sustainable downscaling of production and consumption, to enhance wellbeing and environmental sustainability. It is important, for the widespread acceptance of this aim, to show how and under which conditions sustainable degrowth can be achieved.
In order to gain a broad political legitimacy, the social and environmental effects of no-growth policies need to be shown and contrasted with business as usual scenarios in which the socio-environmental consequences of negative growth are tested.
Quantitative analysis and formal modelling are useful tools to provide a credible answer as well as urgently necessary in the field of degrowth studies which can be characterized, so far, by a prevalence of qualitative analysis. In this perspective, it is also important the integration of models that enclose natural resource dynamics, socio-economic variables such as employment, or energy policies.
The development of this kind of models is nowadays crucial to contrast austerity measures that have largely failed to reduce high levels of unemployment, poverty and insecurity and, at meantime, to foster economic growth.
This session will present some of the most recent advances in the field of ecological macroeconomics in which economic modelling is related to degrowth, no-growth and negative growth scenarios.
In particular, the social effects, in terms of reduction in poverty, unemployment and inequalities, as well as the environmental effects are quantified according to different models, policies, geographical regions and future scenarios.
Results from these models demonstrate that with the adoption of adequate policies sustainable degrowth is possible

This media entry was a contribution to the special session „Economic modelling and Degrowth “ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.

Reflecting the Post-Development gaze: the degrowth debate in Germany

Abstract: Post-Development has reproduced the ‘development gaze’ by focusing on interventions and struggles in the South. This paper draws attention to the German version of degrowth, Postwachstum, as a possible Post-Development approach in the North. It thus contributes to the Post-Development agenda by including the North as a ‘development’ problem and by overcoming the view of the North as a homogeneous neo-liberal, capitalist, Eurocentric bloc. The paper examines key Postwachstum contributions with regard to their correspondence to insights of and gaps in the Post-Development debate. It argues that Postwachstum needs to include a postcolonial perspective on global inequalities and question the ‘development’–modernity–coloniality nexus more profoundly in order to provide a valuable contribution to the Post-Development agenda.

Degrowth: culture, power and change

Abstract: Harmful environmental consequences of growth have been rigorously documented and widely publicized throughout the past half-century. Yet, the quantity of matter and energy used by human economies continues to increase by the minute, while governments and businesses continue to promise and to prioritize further economic growth. Such a paradox raises questions about how we humans change course. This introduction to a Special Section offers a new theoretical approach to change, together with glimpses of adaptations underway around the world. It directs attention away from individual decision-making and toward systems of culture and power through which socialized humans and socioecological worlds are (re)produced, sustained and adapted. Potential for transformative change is found in habitual practices through which skills, perspectives, denials and desires are viscerally embodied, and in cultural systems (economic, religious, gender and other) that govern those practices and make them meaningful. Case studies reviewed illuminate diverse communities acting to maintain old and to forge new moral and material worlds that prioritize well-being, equity and sustainability rather than expansion. This article endeavors to galvanize change by conceptualizing degrowth, by decolonizing worldviews of expansionist myths and values, and by encouraging connections between science and activism, north and south.

This is the introductory article in Lisa L. Gezon and Susan Paulson (eds.) 2017. “Degrowth, culture and power”, Special Section of the Journal of Political Ecology, 24: 425-666.

> Robin M. LeBlanc. 2017. Designing a beautifully poor public: postgrowth community in Italy and Japan. Journal of Political Ecology 24: 449-461.
> Eric Hirsch. 2017. The unit of resilience: unbeckoned degrowth and the politics of (post)development in Peru and the Maldives. Journal of Political Ecology 24: 462-475.
> Ritu Verma. 2017. Gross National Happiness in Bhutan: meaning, measure and degrowth in a living development alternative. Journal of Political Ecology 24: 476-490.
> Jonathan Otto. 2017. Finding common ground: exploring synergies between degrowth and environmental justice in Chiapas, Mexico. Journal of Political Ecology 24: 491-503.
> Ragnheiður Bogadóttir and Elisabeth Skarðhamar Olsen. 2017. Making degrowth locally meaningful: the case of the Faroese grindadráp. Journal of Political Ecology 24: 504-518.
> Joshua Lockyer. 2017. Community, commons, and degrowth at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage. Journal of Political Ecology 24: 519-542.
> Amy Cox Hall. 2017. Neo-monastics in North Carolina, de-growth and a theology of enough. Journal of Political Ecology 24: 543-565.
> Eeva Berglund. 2017. Steering clear of politics: local virtues in Helsinki’s design activism. Journal of Political Ecology 24: 566-581.
> Lisa L. Gezon. 2017. Beyond (anti)utilitarianism: khat and alternatives to growth in northern Madagascar. Journal of Political Ecology 24: 582-594.
> Emma McGuirk. 2017. Timebanking in New Zealand as a prefigurative strategy within a wider degrowth movement. Journal of Political Ecology 24: 595-609
> Ulrich Demmer and Agata Hummel. 2017. Degrowth, anthropology, and activist research: the ontological politics of science. Journal of Political Ecology 24: 610-622.
> Alf Hornborg. 2017. How to turn an ocean liner: a proposal for voluntary degrowth by redesigning money for sustainability, justice, and resilience. Journal of Political Ecology 24: 623-632.
> Karen Foster. 2017. Work ethic and degrowth in a changing Atlantic Canada. Journal of Political Ecology 24: 633-643.
> Jonathan DeVore. 2017. Trees and springs as social property: a perspective on degrowth and redistributive democracy from a Brazilian squatter community. Journal of Political Ecology 24: 644-666.

Towards convergence

From the text: We can observe today a strong resistance to the idea of degrowth among emergent or developing countries. This proposal is often considered, among them, as a typical ideology of industrialized and rich countries. At national level, the idea of degrowth is denounced as a reactionary and upper class ideology. It is a well-known argument used by productivists, either from the right or the left-wing. In fact, it is a reality that the supporters of degrowth are in the majority from middle and upper class and have a university degree. But the real problem is that this argument impedes a real debate with many social movements and is used by mainstream politicians (left and right) to bring discredit on the degrowth movement as a whole. I think that the success of this voluntary misinterpretation or disinformation reveals a specific weakness of the movement. I want to speak about the lack of a consensual platform which could be adopted by social movements, some NGOs and political parties, and defended in international negotiations as well as inside each country, with the same goals. This platform could be based on the proposal of a coordinated convergence (in terms of consumption, C02 emissions and access to resources) between countries and between citizens in each country. The idea is that today it is no more a question of utopian-egalitarian dream but an urgent necessity if we want to avoid environmental and social injustice as well as the rise of violence caused by an increasing scarcity of essential resources.

Contribution to the 3rd International Degrowth Conference for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Venice in 2012.