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CEECEC and Degrowth

Members of the CEECEC consortium have been increasingly active in the growing Degrowth movement across Europe, most recently participating in the 2nd International Conference on Sustainable Degrowth held in Barcelona, March 26-29 (www.degrowth.eu/v1/). Please read on for highlights:

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• 2nd International Conference on Sustainable Degrowth held in Barcelona, March 26-29

Degrowth, décroissance or decreixement. In ever more countries and regions the movement against the dominant growth-orientated economic model is becoming increasingly well-known and gaining support. CEECEC participated in the “2nd Conference on Economic Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity”, held at the University of Barcelona from March 26th to 29th.
In a world where everybody wants economic growth, calls for degrowth can be likened to shouts in the desert, but the number of participants has doubled since 2008, when the first conference took place in Paris (http://events.it-sudparis.eu/degrowthconference/en) . Over 400 scientists and activists from 40 countries in the global North and South came to Barcelona. Co-organizer Joan Martinez-Alier believes “the reason is simple: behind the concept of economic degrowth lies a well-informed, timely and positive message. A decrease of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the North, if well organized, can hit three birds with one stone: it creates more physical space for growth in the South, it halts the destruction of the ecosystem called earth and it supports more quality of life both in the South as in the North”. What the words economic degrowth exactly stand for is still up for debate, as most ecological economists do not like to measure the economy by GDP. But all participants agreed on one issue: that it is necessary to dump the green-growth idea.

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More than one Degrowth
Some scientists expressed a belief that it is necessary to first reach a consensus on one grand theory that will address all pressing environmental problems, but the overwhelming sentiment of participants in Barcelona was remarkably one of an urgent need for practical and immediate action. What emerged from the mist were not easy or ready -made solutions to all environmental, social and North-South problems, but a multitude of proposals for initiatives and empirical studies which together can further shape the growing agenda for degrowth.
VODO and ULB jointly presented a poster on the ecological debt of UMICORE, a private Belgian company, based on the case study they authored for CEECEC. This work has also been accepted for presentation at the 20th IUHPE World Conference on Health Promotion in Geneva in July 2010 (www.iuhpeconference.net) and the ISEE Conference 2010 in August in Bremen (www.isee2010.org). The authors believe that the need to decrease natural resource use and to pursue sustainable degrowth instead will become more evident and eventually acceptable to the general public when the hidden damages accumulated by private companies over time, and the economic value of the costs associated with these damages are put in the spotlight.
Some heads of state in the rich North are warming up to the idea of degrowth. There’s much work to be done before the majority will ever be convinced, but the running joke at the conference was that the world needs more Carla Brunis. Since joining Sarkozy’s side he no longer speaks of growth in GDP, but growth in joie de vivre. Whether that’s because of political opportunism, necessity, conviction or any other reason is up for a different debate.

(by Nick Meynen, VODO)

*Note: A networking site has been set up following the Barcelona conference http://dgrowth.ning.com . It will be in use until July only, before which time news will be posted on the development of a new website to be designed specifically for Degrowth networking. Please invite people in your networks to join, even if they were not able to attend the Barcelona conference.

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“Life After Growth – Economics for Everyone” Screening at 2nd International Conference on Sustainable Degrowth

After its debut screening at the Second International Degrowth Conference in Barcelona this past March, “Life After Growth – Economics for Everyone” is now viewable online, at: www.vimeo.com/10871269 . Our aim is to disseminate it as widely as possible, so please feel free to pass it on to your networks.  If you would like a DVD copy to screen at an event you can contact us at the following email: lifeaftergrowth@gmail.com . This is an ongoing project that aims to document as many examples of economic degrowth in action all over the world.  If you would like to lend support or collaborate please contact us via the above email.

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London Degrowth Videos Now Online

Video footage from Rethinking Economic Growth: Toward an International Degrowth Network is now online. This event, held at the King’s Cross Hub in London was organised by CEECEC’s Hali Healy and supported by the new economics foundation. Click here to see the talks of Mauro Bonaiuti (University of Turin), Leida Rijnhout (ANPED), Andre Reichel (University of Stuttgart), Stephen Spratt (nef) and Tim Jackson (University of Surrey).

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