Degrowth in Movement(s): Exploring Pathways for Transformation

A dictionary of social movements and alternatives for a future beyond economic growth, capitalism, and more

Promoting Waste Degrowth and Environmental Justice at a Local Level: The Case of Unit-Pricing Schemes in Spain

This paper investigates the introduction of unit-pricing (UP) schemes in waste management with regard to grassroots initiatives promoting bottom-up participatory processes in local communities, addressing several issues concerning environmental justice and degrowth. As waste service charges and fees increase in proportion of waste generated in presence of UP schemes, the paper explores and evaluates the socio-economic impact of these schemes at a local level, analysing data and information gathered from four municipalities in Spain. Findings indicate that UP schemes can provide a more balanced payment system for local residents, and help reducing free-rider behaviours associated with illegal and improper disposal practices. In addition, findings provide empirical evidence of the importance of grassroots initiatives in relation to increasing awareness regarding environmental issues among the public, and in view of facilitating change towards more sustainable practices within local communities. Conclusions gathered from this study offer valuable insights to local and national policymakers with regard to the design and delivery of UP schemes in waste management services.

Ecological Economics, vol. 156, February 2019, pp. 306-317

‘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

Complementarity between the EJ movement and degrowth on the European semiperiphery: An empirical study

Abstract: Inspired by the thesis that an alliance between degrowth and environmental justice (EJ) movements is essential (Akbulut et al., this issue), this paper presents the findings of empirical research concerning the pitfalls and possibilities of such an alliance as understood by prominent Croatian EJ movement leaders. We outline the context of the Croatian EJ movement through two specifics – the country’s semiperipheral position in the global world-system and the ecological distribution conflicts (EDCs) characteristic of the post-socialist societalmetabolism in Europe. The research explores the theory-practice nexus, materialist vs. post-materialist value base, and the potential of ‘a politico-metabolic reconfiguration’ (ibid.) for the proposed alliance. Our findings indicate a hitherto limited, but positive potential for degrowth to provide a theoretical framework for the semiperipheral EJ movement. Both the EJ movement and degrowth demonstrably share a materialist motivation, but not for reasons of ‘under-development’ of semiperipheral societies. Our analysis concludes that semiperipheral EJ activists are open to a politico-metabolic reconfiguration proposal, though they are presently not aware that a viable reconfiguration strategy is proffered by the degrowth research community. On the European semiperiphery, an alliance between theory and movement would benefit from a clearer explication of such a strategy.

Ecological Economics, Volume 157, March 2019, Pages 120-128

movum – Heft 17: Demokratie

Heft 19 des Magazins movum zum Thema Demokratie.

Kurzbeschreibung: Gelingende Partizipation ist entscheidend für den nötigen Wandel. Mehr Bürger­beteiligung und direkte Demokratie machen uns widerstandsfähig gegen Populismus.

Das Heft als PDF
Die Infogafik als PDF

15 Minuten für Klimagerechtigkeit mit Lyda F. Forero

Der menschengemachte Klimawandel ist eine der größten Herausforderungen unserer Zeit. In der Wissenschaft herrscht Einigkeit darüber, dass der Ausstoß von Treibhausgasen drastisch reduziert werden muss, um gravierende Klimakatastrophen zu verhindern. Doch wie lässt sich der Klimawandel auf globaler Ebene fair und gerecht gestalten? Welche Verantwortung tragen die Länder des globalen Nordens? Welche Ideen und Konzepte gibt es für die Menschen im Süden ein gutes Leben zu führen, ohne die Konsum- und Produktionsmuster des Nordens nachzuahmen? Und welche Rolle kommt in diesem Prozess der Politik und der Zivilgesellschaft zu?

Degrowth: the history of an idea

Abstract: Degrowth is a concept-platform with multiple meanings, and is shaped by five sources of thought: ecological, bioeconomical, anthropological, democratic, and spiritual. The word appeared in the 1970s, and imposed itself beginning in 2002 owing to the convergence between the criticism of development and the anti-advertising movement, initially in France but later across the European continent, beginning with Latin regions. In radicalizing ecological criticism, it connected and gave increased focus to numerous emerging alternatives in the margins of civil society.

Mein Recht auf Stadt: „Wiener Räume”

Abstract: Frei zugängliche Räume ohne Konsumzwang sind Mangelware in der Stadt. Dabei bietet gerade “Funktionsfreiheit” Potential für Begegnungen, Austausch und Reflexion. Büchereien, Volkshochschulen, Museen und Jugendzentren zeigen heute eingeschränkt, dass solche Räume möglich sind, doch ist das Konzept ausbaubar zu “Wiener Räumen”. Was dabei alles möglich ist lassen so manche Grätzelinitiativen bereits erahnen.

Der Text ist Teil des Projektes Spurenlegen. Eine unabhängige, ehrenamtliche Redaktion, bestehend aus Ulrich Brand, Marina Fischer-Kowalski, Jörg Flecker, Paul Kolm, Markus Koza, Gabriele Michalitsch, Andreas Novy, Elke Rauth, Alexandra Strickner und Ulli Weish hat auf Einladung der Grünen Alternative Wien und der Grünen Bildungswerkstatt im Rahmen des Projektes “Neue Spuren legen” insgesamt acht Abstracts ausgewählt und deren AutorInnen zur Ausarbeitung eingeladen.

Participation “Big Style”: First Experiences with the German Citizens’ Dialogue on Energy Technologies for the Future.

From the text: The project “Bürgerdialoge“ (“citizens’ dialogues”) initiated by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research aims to incorporate the perspectives of citizens regarding future technologies. Germany’s highly discussed withdrawal from nuclear energy and the accompanied fundamental changes in energy production were subjects of eight regional dialogues (with about 100 participants each) which took place from July to November of 2011. Citizens were invited to discuss and develop approaches to solve pressing energy questions such as energy efficiency, renewable energy, energy grids and bridging technologies. In a first discussion-round the citizens’ concerns and expectations were documented and a second round was made up of developing approaches and possible polices for dealing with and solving the issues articulated. The goal of each regional dialogue was to put together a report which was given to a representative of the ministry. During a two day long summit concluding the regional dialogues, participants wrote a final summarizing report, which was officially passed on to the federal minister. The entire process was accompanied by an advisory board made up of representatives of research, science, the economy, civil society as well as participating citizens themselves. Additionally, an Internet platform offered the possibility of online participation. A first interpretative analysis of the dialogues shows several overarching topics. The decentralization of energy production was a central aspect of all dialogues and was seen as a possibility to strengthen regional participation of citizens and municipalities helping them become more independent from large energy companies and to develop local energy plans.

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

Die teilende Gesellschaft

SWR2 Wissen: “Mein Haus, mein Auto …” – ist dieses Denken noch zeitgemäß? Das Image des Kapitalismus ist angeschlagen. Die soziale Schere driftet immer weiter auseinander. Das Ansammeln von Besitztümern zehrt an den ökologischen Ressourcen. Das Teilen etabliert sich als neue Form des Lebens und Wirtschaftens – und die Digitalisierung macht’s möglich. Menschen teilen sich Autos und Wohnungen, sie teilen Wissen und Kultur. Doch wächst dadurch wirklich der Gemeinsinn? Ist der Mensch zum Teilen geboren? Oder ist die “Sharing Society” am Ende nur eine große Illusion, die einige reich und viele ärmer macht?

Degrowth and Civil Society Organisations

Short-interview with Leida Rijnhout from the Second International Conference on Economic Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Barcelona.

Participative/direct democracy: What forms of ‘deep’ democracy for a society that degrows?

Poster by Désirée Lucchese and Rodney Lester from the Second International Conference on Economic Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Barcelona with the title “Participative/direct democracy: What forms of ‘deep’ democracy for a society that degrows?”.


The Political Snail’s Strategy

Poster by Vincent Liegey from the Second International Conference on Economic Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Barcelona with the title “The Political Snail’s Strategy”.

Key information ‘conductors’: Civil Society Organizations

Transcription of an poster session by Isa Gama and a poster from Isa Gama and Mariana Meireles at the Second International Conference on Economic Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Barcelona with the title “Key information ‘conductors’: Civil Society Organizations”.