1,100 experts call for Degrowth as post-COVID-19 path
New Roots for the economy: academics, experts, artists, activists and organizations from around the world demand a farewell to our economy’s growth dependency to avoid further crises.
13.05.2020 – Today, an open letter signed by more than 1,100 experts and over 70 organizations from more than 60 countries was published, calling for Degrowth to tackle the crisis induced by COVID-19 in order to build a more just and sustainable society and prevent further crises. Among the signatories are Alberto Acosta (author, Ecuador), Jason Hickel (researcher, UK), Carola Rackete (activist, Germany), Jean Ziegler (author, Switzerland), George Monbiot (author, UK), Inge Røpke (researcher, Denmark), Giorgos Kallis (researcher, Greece), Julia Steinberger (researcher, UK), Arturo Escobar (researcher, Colombia/US), Ashish Kothari (environmentalist, India) and Marta Conde (researcher, Spain). The letter has been respectively published in openDemocracy (UK), Mediapart (France), The Wire (India), HGV (Hungary), Pagina 12 (Argentina), Yeşil Gazete (Turkey), ctxt (Spain), Italia Che Cambia (Italy), (Czech Republic), Ricochet (Quebec), Sin Embargo (Mexico) and Information (Denmark) among other media outlets.
In the letter, national and international institutions as well as civil society and economic actors are urged to follow five principles in their efforts to counter the current societal and economic crisis, taking into account social and environmental ills. The signatories call for Degrowth: a democratically planned yet adaptive, sustainable, and equitable downscaling of the economy, leading to a future where we can live better with less. This requires transforming the current profit-oriented capitalist system. The authors of the open letter oppose blind faith in market forces and dismiss a pursuit of ‘green growth’ and decoupling as main strategies to solve environmental and social problems.
“The crisis triggered by the novel coronavirus has already exposed many weaknesses of our growth-obsessed capitalist economy: insecurity for many, healthcare systems crippled by years of austerity and the undervaluation of essential professions. This system, rooted in the exploitation of people and nature, was considered normal – but this so-called ‘normality’ was already a crisis. For decades, the dominant strategies were to leave economic distribution largely to market forces and to reduce environmental degradation through decoupling and green growth. This has not worked, and it will not work in the future”, say the initiators of the letter.
The signatories offer five principles for the recovery of the economy and as the basis for creating a just society:
1) Put life at the center of our economic systems.
2) Radically re-evaluate how much and what work is necessary for a good life for all.
3) Organize society around the provision of essential goods and services.
4) Democratize society.
5) Base political and economic systems on the principle of solidarity.
“The current economic downturn is not Degrowth, even if some people misleadingly call it that. Degrowth means ensuring everybody’s basic needs are met by transforming our societies. With policies in place to do that, we could shut down much of the economy for months and everyone would still have enough food, shelter, and healthcare. In a Degrowth society, with relocalized economies, a pandemic like COVID-19 would be less likely, would spread less, and would cause less suffering. The economic crisis triggered by the pandemic is related to our dependence on growth”, say the initiators of the letter.
The initiators of the letter invite interested individuals and organizations to engage in an open debate to re-envision economy and society in the wake of the corona crisis. From May 29 to June 1, the international conference “Degrowth Vienna 2020: Strategies for a Social Ecological Transformation” will be held online, and the Global Degrowth Day on June 6th.