First North-South Conference on Degrowth-Descrecimiento, México City 2018 – Ecotecnologías: ¿es una respuesta viable a la vulnerabilidad de la vivienda en Guanajuato?

El principal hallazgo muestra que la viabilidad de las ecotecnologías está correlacionada con la diversidad ecológica, cultural y social de los municipios. Asimismo, su adopción social se fortalece con procesos participativos con perspectiva de género y educación ambiental con base en la mezcla de conocimiento técnico y el conocimiento vernáculo.

¿Tecnociencia para el bienestar o para el capital?

Pro-Tourism Consensus Crumbles in Barcelona

Introduction: Barcelona, a city of 1.6 million people, was visited by 8.2 million tourists last year. For decades, city governments of all political stripes operated under the assumption that ‘growth is good’. Each annual increase in visitor numbers was announced with glee, with assurances the sector would bring immense economic benefits to the city.

But around three years ago, signs began to appear that the pro-tourism consensus was crumbling. It became clear that income generated by tourism was concentrated in the hands of a minority, while its negative consequences were borne by everyone else.

Sharing, togetherness and intentional degrowth

Abstract: This article proposes a social phenomenology of intentional sharing and togetherness from a degrowth perspective: extending human relations instead of market relations; deepening democracy; defending ecosystems; and realizing a more equal global distribution of wealth. Social phenomenology looks beyond individual mutual exchange to the rich but fragile social construction of collectively negotiated ethical purpose. Intentional communities of cohousing are identified as part of a solution to dismantle privatized, conspicuous consumption. This approach challenges the tendency in popular sharing economy discourse to conflate different types of togetherness, highlighting instead the social significance of skilful cooperation and conviviality in groups and associations.

Real estate speculation and rent-extraction in a degrowth economy:

Constraints on resource use associated with degrowth are likely to reduce the scope for profitable investment in the ‘real’ economy. In such a context, those seeking to grow their wealth may increasingly turn to the purchase of existing assets, including land and housing, for the purpose of rent-extraction or speculation. Indeed, sociologists like John Bellamy Foster and Wolfgang Streeck argue that the reason we have seen such enormous flows of capital into the unproductive FIRE sector (finance, insurance and real estate) over recent decades is because of falling profit rates in productive sectors. Although these Marxist writers would blame today’s falling profit rates on a crisis of overproduction/underconsumption inherent in capitalism itself, the results could be similar in the context of self-imposed resource constraints. Firms, fund managers, and even individual households, may increasingly look for places beyond the productive economy to put their savings. This paper focuses on the impact of such behaviour in the housing and land market, where fund managers may turn towards further investment in securitised mortgage debt, and individuals with excess savings may turn to property speculation and landlordism. Such additional demand could lead to persistent and/or intensified land and house price inflation and thus a widening gap between ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. This paper will offer some tentative proposals for intervention – including a Land Value Tax – which might help to guard against real estate speculation and rent extraction in a degrowth economy.

Additional links:

This media entry was a contribution to the special session „Real estate speculation and rent-extraction in a degrowth economy:“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.

Home-front transitions beyond growth: a Swedish case

The environmental impact and distributive implications of the built environment and our residential environments as mediating human endeavors is significant. Approaches addressing the resource intensity associated with modern ways of living need to go beyond a neo-liberal focus on individual consumption choices, thus widening the framing of sustainable homes as incorporating more than rational, techno-economic solutions in contemporary eco-efficient housing development. The paper explores concepts of home and ways of living as a means of transitioning to practices with a lower environmental impact, emphasizing the underlying motivations and prerequisites for such transitions. A framework for the exploration of residents’ engagement in low-impact home practices is provided, based in theories on transition beyond the economic [urban] growth paradigm and theories of social practice.
An empirical study in the context of a semi-rural community in Sweden is presented, offering narratives from people who have intentionally chosen to live in various low-impact ways – revolving primarily around forms of self-sufficiency and voluntary simplicity. Home visits and in-depth interviews provide insights into why and what these ways of living entail, mapping the types of practices engaged in, and the motivations and considerations conveyed as regards notions of the sustainable home. It is argued that these “home-front transitioners” can be seen as a complementary category to the existing typologies and notions on the sustainable home and home life, hence diversifying the perspective on how to create built environments, services, and systems to facilitate transitions to low-impact living.

This media entry was a contribution to the special session „Home-front transitions beyond growth: a Swedish case“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.

Housing for Degrowth

Communal eco-housing and households offer degrowth strategies and prefigure necessary change. Living in collective housing means sharing goods and services, eco-efficiencies and politico-cultural experience of commons forms of governance.

Scholars active in eco-collective housing (squats, housing commons and co-living) in various European, Oceanic and USA sites talk about: creating sustainable housing and small residential biophysical ecofootprints, and experiencing transformations towards degrowth.

Challenged by narrow building and planning regulators, capitalist cultures, and financial and legal structures focusing on private property and family residences, housing collectivists: engage in the micro-politics of managing residential commons; grow communal domestic cultures necessary for achieving smaller eco-footprints; demonstrate new ways of living and engage in macro-political outreach actions.

On many political and socio-material fronts, communal eco-housing structures can act as hybrids pointing to sustainable degrowth futures. Significant works-in-progress, they can show how the personal is the political in creating feasible and desirable degrowth.

This interactive 2-hour session has four 15-min talks and audio-visual material. Contributors will question participants on housing experiences and ideas. With participants’ permission we plan to record the session.

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

The Swedish urban typologies in the city of Karlstad: neighbourhood conceptualizations and typologies for urban development and transformation in the 21 st century

Abstract: Many Swedish as many European cities experienced a similar history of urbanization, architectural styles and planning paradigms. Most of the Swedish neighbourhoods originate or were modified in the 20th century and many of them, often copyrighted by architects and planners, have been preserved as they were designed. The fundamental urban challenge in this century is to find ways of urban redevelopment, transformation and adaptation of these neighbourhoods to futures of social and environmental changes.
The type in urban morphology is the encompassing category that fuses form with time and space and there is a long tradition and established schools in Europe which document the consistencies between urban form, history and society. In this article I analyze the neighbourhoods in the city of Karlstad via the previously defined Swedish urban typology. The results show high explanation coefficients and low deviations. The typological neighbourhoods have similar urban densities, either as population or work places per hectare or as floor area ratios (FAR). It allows discussions about urban densities, redevelopment and transformation without really talking about coefficients or numbers.
The results awake a palette of debates. How stereotypical are the urban neighbourhoods today and how and should we make them more unique? Are there other alternatives for the 21st century than the urban typologies from the past? Is conceptualizing neighbourhoods through typologies enough for urban transformation?

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

Combining Efficiency, Sufficiency and Lifestyle Changes: the Case of Zero Energy Buildings

Contribution to the 3rd International Degrowth Conference for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Venice in 2012. – only available as presentation slides

Ecovillages, a social alternative

Introduction: The term “Ecovillage” has had great fortune since it was coined during the convention of sustainable communities held in Denmark, 1991, by the Gaia Foundation. Thanks to the support of important ecological and alternative experiences like that of Findhorn in Scotland, The Farm in the United States, Chrystal Water in Australia, and others, the Global Ecovillage Network(GEN) was formed in 1995.
The network now is recognized officially by the United Nations and collaborates with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) It also has a consultative status at the UN-Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) commission. GEN is divided into continental organizations that include thousands of communities around the world as well as many national networks.
RIVE, ( Rete Italiana dei Villaggi Ecologici) the Italian network is a member of the European chapter of GEN. It has existed since 1996 and now includes 23 communities as well as 11 new projects that are distributed throughout the nation, but this does not comprehend all the experiences that can be defined as ecovillages. Most Italian ecovillages are of a relatively small dimension, generally including about 20 members. Notable exceptions are represented by the Federazione di Comunità di Damanhur, near Ivrea in the north-western region of Piedmont, which has about 600 residents and the Popolo degli Elfi , in the Tuscan Apennines, near Pistoia, which includes about 200 people. Italian ecovillages are based on diverse philosophical inspirations and are organized according to different lifestyles, but they all adhere partially, or totally to the principles which are expressed in the Manifesto of RIVE.

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

Saving by Sharing – Collective Housing for Sustainable Lifestyles

Presentation and transcription of an oral Session by Dick Urban Vestbro at the Second International Conference on Economic Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Barcelona wit the title “Saving by Sharing – Collective Housing for Sustainable Lifestyles”

Towards a “third” sector housing in France: symptom of sustainable degrowth?

Transcription of an oral session by Anne d’Orazio at the Second International Conference on Economic Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Barcelona on the topic “Towards a “third” sector housing in France: symptom of sustainable degrowth?”.

Change without fear

Transcription of an oral session by Christer Sanne at the Second International Conference on Economic Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Barcelona on the topic “Growth is unsustainable. Long live degrowth?”.

Vielfalt statt Gleichwertigkeit – Was Bevölkerungsrückgang für die Versorgung ländlicher Regionen bedeutet

Auf dem Land treibt der demografische Wandel die Kosten für Energie, Abwasser, Straßen, Bildung und ärztliche Versorgung in die Höhe. Und belastet damit immer weniger Einwohner mit immer höheren Ausgaben. Was wiederum verstärkte Abwanderung zur Folge haben kann. Welche Alternativen es zu dieser Entwicklung gibt, hat das Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung gemeinsam mit dem Potsdamer Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) untersucht.
(Kurzbeschreibung der Herausgeber)

ISBN: 978-3-9814679-6-3

Anti-spectacle – a discussion paper –

From the text: We want to open this discussion by repeating an earlier argument (Radovic 2008b) that there is a need to revisit World City Hypothesis (Friedmann, 1986). We see that as important in the context of the Conference on Degrowth, Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity, as the idea of “world city” implies a certain (kind of) quality, and the concept of degrowth and the idea(l) of sustainable development are both about a necessity to redefine the very criteria which frame our understanding of progress. Cities offer an important arena for all developments related to sustainable future.

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

Experiences of supportive co-housing communities in “Mondo di Comunità e Famiglia” Association

From the text: We search for a new lifestyle because we know that living in a communitarian environment which values diversity brings serenity. A fulfilled person is a resource for the entire society. We can say to each other “I can be a resource but I need you to make it happen”. On these bases, the first experiences of housing communities and territorial communities were born. Territory can be a district of a big town as well as a group of small neighbouring villages: each a place where community members can develop important and frequent relationships. People and individuals may choose to live in the same building and have their own flat, or to move in order to be nearer to other families.

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

Italian version below