Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Behaviour change and system change in the housing sector


How can integrated housing policy achieve decarbonisation while enabling fair access to housing? We invite policy-makers, activists, researchers, and others to take part in an interactive discussion. After short introductions reporting the research underpinning the workshop, participants will join sub-groups on: fair carbon taxes, retrofitting rented housing, and awareness building among the energy poor. A plenary discussion will conclude the workshop. Participants will need to specify the group they want to join upon registration.

Presenters: Kristina Eisfeld (University of Vienna), Michael Friesenecker (University of Vienna), Veronika Kulmer (Joanneum Research), Elisabetta Mocca (University of Vienna), Sebastian Seebauer (Joanneum Research)

Language: English

Technical details: WS F EISFELD.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 23,5MB

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Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Book Presentation: “Cities of Dignity” and “Towards a Political Economy of Degrowth”

Special session

“Cities of Dignity” presents seven successful strategies of such urban transformation toward more democratic, sustainable, socially equitable and antipatriarchal relations from below in a series of case studies: the self-determination and organization of slum dwellers in Buhj in India; Black-led urban commons in Birmingham, Jackson, and Detroit in the U.S.; the San Roque popular market in Quito, Ecuador; the 15th Garden food sovereignty network in Syria; the resistance of slum dwellers of Maroko and Mokoko in Lagos, Nigeria; the communitarian currency experimentation in Kenya; and the resistance of Izidora community in Belo Horizonte, Brasil. Many important lessons for social-ecological transformation toward societies that leave the growth imperative behind can be drawn from these seven urban experiences.

How to move forward in an informed way, without reproducing the existing hierarchies and injustices? How not to end up in a situation when ecological sustainability is the prerogative of the privileged, direct democracy is ignorant of environmental issues, and localisation of production is xenophobic? These are some of the questions that have inspired the edited collection “Towards a Political Economy of Degrowth”. Bringing degrowth into dialogue with critical social theories, covering previously unexplored geographical contexts and discussing some of the most contested concepts in degrowth, the book hints at informed paths towards socio-ecological transformation.

Facilitator: Lena Gerdes

Presenters: Mabrouka Mbarek, Stefania Barca, Max Koch, Emanuele Leonardi, Giorgos Velegrakis

Language: English with translation to German

Technical details: SP MB_Book Presentation-Cities of Dignity and Towards a Political Economy of Degrowth.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 617MB

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Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Towards a City of Solidary Degrowth

Special session

Book presentation: How do we want to live, work, relax today and tomorrow? How do we create a good life for everyone in the city? While niche initiatives are already beginning to answer these questions, there is still a lack of comprehensive concepts and approaches to transformation that would outline a fundamentally different, solidarity-based city. The Degrowth City (Postwachstumsstadt) project dares to attempt this. As the current crisis is increasing pressure on the housing market, there is also a window of opportunity for radical change.

Presenters: Anton Brokow-Loga, Frank Eckhardt, Evelyn Markoni, Kris Krois, Timmo Krüger, Viola Schulze Dieckhoff, Christian Lamker

Language: German

Technical details: SP F_Towards a City of solidary Degrowth_Postwachstumsstadt_trimmed.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 412MB

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Localism and the city: the example of “urban villages”

In view of the urban sprawl and liberal anarchy of urban growth that we face today, how shall we reconquer a social mode of community organization within the great world cities?

Housing for Degrowth: Principles, Models, Challenges and Opportunities

This groundbreaking collection on housing for degrowth addresses key challenges of unaffordable, unsustainable and anti-social housing today, including going beyond struggles for a ‘right to the city’ to a ‘right to metabolism’, advocating refurbishment versus demolition, and revealing controversies within the degrowth movement on urbanisation, decentralisation and open localism. International case studies show how housing for degrowth is based on sufficiency and conviviality, living a ‘one planet lifestyle’ with a common ecological footprint.

This book explores environmental, cultural and economic housing and planning issues from interdisciplinary perspectives such as urbanism, ecological economics, environmental justice, housing studies and policy, planning studies and policy, sustainability studies, political ecology, social change and degrowth. It will appeal to students and scholars across a wide range of disciplines.

Measuring rural–urban disparity with the Genuine Progress Indicator: A case study in Japan

Japan, often regarded as one of the world’s most egalitarian societies, has faced increasing rural–urban disparity since the late 1980s. However, even if the wages and income levels of rural populations are lower than those of urban residents, some people will remain in the rural areas or, in some cases, return from the cities. These observations imply the necessity of measuring the rural–urban disparity in Japan as well as the need for an alternative indicator to the conventional economic tools for taking this disparity measurement. The objective of this paper is to measure rural–urban disparity with GPI based on a case study in Japan. The results of this analysis present two key findings. First, the rural–urban disparity measured by the GPI is much smaller than that measured by GDP. Second, the GPI disparity has been an increasing trend, particularly after the 2000s, due to the increased cost of climate change in rural areas. GPI can identify some strengths of rural areas that are not captured by GDP, but these advantages are cancelled out by the increasing cost of climate change.

Ecological Economics, vol. 120, December 2015, p.260-271

Degrowth Conference Budapest, 2016 – The interpretation of degrowth in local policy and planning

Presentation by Katarina Buhr

A significant share of the literature on degrowth focuses on macro-level units of analysis such as the global or national economy, to discuss aspects such as market logics as a central organizing principle in society or the relevance of GDP as a welfare measure or as a barrier for long-term sustainable development on the global scale. Studies on degrowth that focus on the local scale, on the other hand, have examined e.g. social movements or individual lifestyles. In addition, much of the degrowth literature consist of critical arguments about the need for, or the potential of, alternative development paths but there is a lack of empirically grounded understanding of the institutional conditions for working with degrowth as a conscious development strategy in a real world policy context. This paper directs its attention to local land use policy and planning to explore questions like: What does degrowth mean in the context of local city planning? How is local city planning affected by prevailing or changing norms and values about what is desirable? By which actors and on which arenas are matters of degrowth discussed? What tensions tend to evolve around degrowth matters at the local level? This paper presents a case study of the Swedish municipality of Alingsås in which growth as a given objective has been begun to be questioned in central planning processes. At the same time, the city planning is significantly influenced by Alingsås’ long-standing role as a commuting society and planning ideas to build for travelling. The paper combines qualitative analyses of central planning documents of Alingsås with in-depth interviews with local officials.

Sustainable Welfare in Swedish Cities: Challenges of Eco-Social Integration in Urban Sustainability Governance

In this paper, we study the integration of ecological sustainability and social welfare concerns in cities. Efforts to handle ecological challenges risk having negative impacts on equality and social welfare. While current levels of consumption and material welfare are unsustainable, there is a need for more sustainable approaches to welfare and wellbeing. Still, ecological and social concerns in urban governance are treated as separated topics. Based on text analysis of policy documents and qualitative interviews, we study how ecological and social welfare concerns are being addressed and integrated into urban planning in three Swedish cities (Stockholm, Göteborg, Malmö). Theoretically, the paper draws on conceptualizations of sustainable welfare, social and ecological sustainability, and policy integration. We find ecological and social welfare concerns being acknowledged as interconnected and we see signs of an emerging sustainable welfare agenda in the cities, e.g., around Agenda 2030. However, in practice, eco-social policy integration is only established to a limited degree, for instance in neighborhood development, transport planning, and green city planning. Issues of ecological justice and equity and the relationship between socioeconomic factors and consumption-related environmental impacts are hardly addressed. Thus, much remains to be done for eco-social policy integration to materialize at the urban level.
Sustainability 2020, 12(1), 383

‘Saving’ the city: collective low-budget organizing and urban practice

This special issue of ephemera maps social practices of collective organizing on a low budget in cities today. ‘”Saving” the city’ expresses the imperative to economize while at the same time harbouring the desire to ‘rescue’ – recollecting an urban civil society via mobilising the public, helping neighbourhoods, creating public spaces, and heterogeneous possibilities of living to cope with today’s and future challenges. To overcome established, purely economic dimensions of saving, the contributions explore the complexity of ‘saving’ through the interplay of organizations, resources, lifestyles and moral economies. We collected contributions from an interdisciplinary set of researchers as well as urban ‘practitioners’ to explore the way in which discourses of austerity, of resource scarcity and urban life interconnect and are producing a sort of different urban practice.

ephemera, Volume 15, number 1, February 2015

Degrowth in city planning

This paper summarises the key arguments of degrowth thinking and examines their validity in a city planning setting. The paper argues that much of the reorientation work that is necessary to meet the goals of international climate change conventions needs to be carried out locally, in urban and regional settings, and this creates pressure to renew land-use planning practices. It also argues that in light of the latest carbon footprint studies the currently popular linking of urban planning motives with the doctrine of ‘compactness policy’ – which aims at urban core densification and accumulation of growth options – needs to be re-evaluated. The empirical part of the paper focuses on the inner city planning of Joensuu, a city in Eastern Finland with 75,000 inhabitants which has increasingly been criticised by some residents, civil servants and civic action groups for one-sided promotion of the central city. This is, according to critics, taking place at the cost of the surrounding countryside and peri-urban nodes. The paper illustrates how the ‘tactics of growth’ become manifest in the official local planning procedure and to what degree the planning critique, explicitly or implicitly, leans on degrowth concerns. The gathering of the empirical material progressed as part of my involvement in the local degrowth movement, Kohtuusliike, which actively participated in the preparation of the Central Joensuu General Plan 201

Fennia, Volume 196, 2018, pp. 43-57

Para construir estrada, governo de Nairóbi destrói comunidade com 2 mil pessoas

A autora discute o mito do progresso problematizando uma reportagem do jornal britânico The Guardian sobre a construção de uma rodovia em Nairóbi, no Quênia. Ela aponta o paradoxo entre o crescimento do Produto Interno Bruto e da pobreza extrema no país, assim como a adoção de soluções petróleo-dependentes que geram a destruição de casas e desalojamentos para os problemas de tráfego urbano.

movum – Heft 12: Stadtökologie

Heft 12 des Magazins movum zum Thema Stadtökologie.

Kurzbeschreibung: Die Städte wachsen und mit ihnen die sozialen und ökologischen Probleme. Werden die Metropolen zum Ground Zero der Moderne oder zum Vorreiter des Wandels?

Das Heft als PDF
Die Infografik als PDF

No One Noticed

Poem by Amitangshu Acharya


No one noticed
When the sparrows left
It was just another
smoggy winter morning

[read the full poem by following the link to the content]

Detroit Open City

Blog article about Detroit and its possible development in the future

Umkämpftes Grün – Zwischen neoliberaler Stadtentwicklung und Stadtgestaltung von unten

Urbane Gärten sind aus vielen Städten nicht mehr wegzudenken. Gemeinschaftlicher Gemüseanbau wird dabei oft als rebellischer Akt der Stadtgestaltung von unten verstanden. Gleichzeitig taucht »urban gardening« immer häufiger in Stadtentwicklungsplänen und Werbebroschüren auf.

Die Beiträger_innen des Bandes liefern eine kritische Analyse grüner urbaner Aktivitäten und ihrer umkämpften und widersprüchlichen Rolle in aktuellen Prozessen der Neoliberalisierung des Städtischen.

Leseprobe (PDF)
Leseprobe (E-Paper)