We received some interesting entries for our Post Growth Challenge. There weren’t so many as we’d have liked but, as they are all of interest, it does mean that we can share them all.
We purposely called it a challenge rather than a competition, rather like the Queen of Hearts in Alice, saying that everyone (who took the trouble of entering) was a winner, and as such they all received “our very interesting” mini-book, The Viable Economy and Society.
Nevertheless, we did say that we’d identify the one we liked best. Four raters, two from Steady State Manchester (who submitted one rating form together), one from The Meteor and one from Systems Change Alliance, used five criteria:
A) Consistency with a degrowth / post-growth perspective.
B) Adequately captures the essence of post-growth thinking, or one or more strands within it.
C) Accessibility to a non-specialist audience.
D) Economy of expression.
E) Usability by ourselves in promoting the post-growth approach – i.e. how likely are we to make use of it?
Degrowth in Manchester
Inevitably we didn’t agree on everything, with some of the entries liked more by some than others. However, the overall best rated was the zine, Degrowth in Manchester, submitted by Maddy Taylor and Neriya Ben-Dor. We’ve already featured it on our website and you can download it here, or view it online here.
Introduction to Doughnut Economics
Inequality and post-growth solutions
The other, from Tilman Hartley and colleagues at ICTA, Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona looks at a specific challenge for post-growth, that inequality could increase when the economy stops growing. They explain the dilemma very clearly and assure us that there are policy solutions ….. we await the next instalment!
Ideas on a Post Growth Policy Package
Stanislas Rigal at the Institut des Sciences de l’Évolution de Montpellier, Université de Montpellier, contributed a concise policy briefing, “Ideas on a Post Growth Policy Package”. This is admirably concise, so we reproduce it here [in the drop down box below]. You can download it as a pdf, and this includes the appendix which explains some of the concepts, indexed with numbered notes in the piece below. Stanislas uses some unusual language to set out his idea, and we think, because this makes the reader pause and think, there is a real value in that.
Ideas on a Post Growth Policy Package – Stanislas Rigal
Reviving democracy and pools of life. The goal is that each pool of life (2)
achieves a relative autonomy for goods, food and infrastructure production while
avoiding authoritarian drift thanks to a democratic control of local institutions.
Such a strong democratic renewal is allowed by an extensive decentralisation in
decision-making authority, enabling direct democracy through citizens assemblies.
These assemblies will define local needs and production levels, in direct connection
with neighbouring pools of life and interacting with all the other pools of life via
a national assembly (3).
Empowering ourself. To break hindrances of growth-based capitalism such
as the debt burden, we need to set up a debt moratorium through a citizen audit to
determine the legitimate debt and cancel the illegitimate one (4) . Empowerment will
also come from a co-operative or national management of banks (5). In addition, by
redesigning taxation and allowance6 , limits may be set to incomes, and inequalities
will deeply decline (7) .
Deciding collectively of our limits… Common goods such as forests and
rivers may be managed by local communities with respect to smooth running prin-
ciples (8) , in a continuous dialogue with similar communities for sharing experiences.
The right to a healthy and liveable environment could follow the same rational
than commons with a similar governance using individual and non-transferable
quotas for greenhouse gas emission and material footprint (9). A complementary
policy would be to planning goods production while avoiding imitating failure
examples from the past century (10) .
… to regain liberty and life quality. Relocation of production will bring
new autonomy and stronger resilience to global perturbations. Third places could
be encourage, in which citizens can train themselves to craft goods conception,
using low tech production machines (11). Local currencies can be set up, allowing
local and reasonable trade without speculation in the remaining market activities (12).
De-commodification with end of advertising will free space and minds whereas
work sharing (13) will free time for private life as well as community life and direct
democracy. Even if the material living standard will be lower (14), the quality of life
will be far better.
Toward a sober and cleaner energy production. The need for mate-
rial and energy will decrease to enable a clean production of the remaining needs
through renewable sources. Renovation of housing will be combined to the
development of district heating networks. Small methanation units, shared between
farms, will be set up throughout the country and supply biogas into the distribution
network and to co-generation plants providing heat and controllable power.
Low-tech and locally produced wind turbines and solar panels will supply the remaining
needed power (15). Rail network will supplant plane and car for long distance travel
and freight. Cities will be gradually reshaped to a more human size, with multifunctional
districts avoiding many useless travels and releasing public area from car tyranny by promoting
active transportation and public transports (16).
Developing farming that makes sense. Farming will be reterritorialised
to supply to local needs, accounting for changing diets toward less meat and less
processed food. Farming will revive the purpose to get maximal calorie produc-
tion compare to calorie expenditure, generalising agroecology to drastically reduce
mechanisation and inputs while maximising yields. Farming will be the core of
the pool of life structure by providing jobs, rebalancing population and supplying
raw material and energy sources (17).
Living in harmony with our environment. Areas affected by human activities will suffer
less from disastrous practices with the end of chemical inputs
and from population density with the population rebalancing. Furthermore, substantial
jointly-managed areas could be set as free from human activities (18) to leave
room to biodiversity.
Policies for Degrowth
Another text-based entry, in the form of a blog post, came from Andrea Rigon, from The Bartlett Development Planning Unit (DPU), University College London. Andrea notes that:
“Acknowledging the diversity of perspectives and a more concise set of proposals by Research and Degrowth, this article puts together a number of policies and proposals consistent with degrowth. These are policies that either contribute to reduce societies’ throughput of energy and raw materials, or help people and companies to understand their impact and contribute to social equity. The proposals below are a synthesis of collective reflections in various degrowth fora; mistakes are mine.”
The 19 policy ideas are ones that we will be dipping into from time to time as a helpful resource. You can download his piece here.
“Prezi” for the Post Growth Challenge
Finally, Beth Stratford from the University of Leeds submitted a slide presentation using the prezi application. It is based on a longer policy paper by Beth and Dan O’Neill, The UK’s Path to a Doughnut-Shaped Recovery. Beth has also written a related article, perhaps controversially asking, Green growth vs degrowth: are we missing the point? Both contributions are concerned with policy approaches that tend to reduce the dependency of the economy on (material) growth. The prezi is concerned with four policy areas that aim to offer opportunities for all while respecting the planetary system boundaries, worker empowerment and protection, tackling rent extraction, reducing exposure to debt crises and safeguarding basic needs. You can watch the prezi here but note that you have to advance each step manually with the > button.
By Steady State Manchester
Feature image: composite image created from artwork by Josie Tothill in zine Degrowth in Manchester.