The philosophy of unending economic growth has in the meantime become for many simply the cause of today's global problems such as climate change, environmental destruction and social injustice. This year's event, which was held in Venice September 19-23, therefore focused on the search for sustainable alternatives to structures and activities based on pure growth. Since the last conference in March 2010, the number of participants had doubled.
Event draws broad variety of interest groups
A particular feature was the fact that a platform was provided not only to scientists but also to other groups. The keynote speakers, whose lectures were accessible publicly, included not only famous economists such as Serge Latouche and Veronika Bennholdt-Thomsen, but also theologians, trade unionists and politicians.
Workshops, talks and a "Garden of Ideas"
Each day was devoted to one of three topic areas, community, work and democracy. Specifically, the aim was to bring economics and society closer together. The morning was devoted to scientific lectures, in the afternoon discussions and workshops attempted to open up further perspectives for the specific topic and to elaborate proposals for further research work. In one of the activity workshops for instance, an interactive degrowth map was drawn up in order to make the global activities on this topic accessible. The collected proposals were presented to the public in a "Garden of Ideas" at the end of the conference.
Degrowth in a stumbling economy
The conference was concluded by the famous degrowth researchers Giorgos Kallis und Joan Martínez-Alier. The two presented not only an overview of research activities hitherto, but also emphasised that solutions to current problems such as increasing unemployment had to be found quickly. In addition, they raised the question of whether and how key demands of the degrowth community such as a basic income and other institutions of the welfare state could be financed in a shrinking economy.
Parallel events to the conference included public meetings and debates, films and book presentations on the topic of degrowth.
Petra Wächter, Denise Riedlinger