[EVENT] Degrowth and Health, Live at Fearless Cities Barcelona

Degrowth and Health: Building a Caring World Beyond Growth

Date: Tuesday the 6th of July 2021

Time: 16:00 (Amsterdam time)

Commons Network is hosting a live event as part of the Fearless Cities Barcelona conference to present our new publication about degrowth and health. You are all invited to join us.

For the past two years, our team has been researching the topic of degrowth and how it relates to the commons and the caring economy. Our first major publication will focus on the question of health: can the urgent need for a post-growth economic vision also inspire us to rethink health and care?

We are happy to be able to present this new report during the Fearless Cities Barcelona conference, especially after working closely with the Fearless City Amsterdam team for the past few years. Our team’s degrowth expert, Winne van Woerden, has been spearheading this research, and she will present the main findings during this live event, to which you are all invited. We are particularly proud to announce that degrowth expert professor Susan Paulson from the Univeristy of Florida will join our conversation to share her thoughts.

Download the executive summary of the report

About the speakers:

  • Winne van Woerden: Winne has a background in political economy of health and planetary health. Winne is currently working as a junior researcher at Commons Network where she studies new economic thinking and its relation to human health and wellbeing, in particular degrowth and the caring economy. She is the lead author of the report Living Well on a Finite Planet – Rethinking Health and Care Beyond Growth.
  • Professor Susan Paulson: professor at the Univeristy of Florida. Her research interests include political ecology, gender/class/race/ethnicity, sustainability science and degrowth. She is currently studying changing masculinities among men who performed painful and dangerous labor in extractive industries. She is co-author of the 2020 book The Case for Degrowth, together with Giorgos Kallis, Federico Demaria and Giacomo D’Alisa.
  • Thomas de Groot (moderator): Thomas has a background in journalism and politics. He is a writer, organizer and political advisor from Amsterdam. Thomas works as Head of Programmes at Commons Network, where he works with social movements, government agencies and cities to transform the system and shape a caring, just and post-capitalist future.

About the report Living Well on a Finite Planet – Building a Caring World Beyond Growth:

Today, both amongst policymakers and the wider public, there remains a dominant belief that regardless how wealthy a country becomes, its GDP should continue to rise. Questioning the continued expansion of GDP feels almost counterintuitive if we want to safeguard human health now and in the future. Yet, widening global inequalities and rising ecological catastrophes are telling us to do exactly this: to question the desirability and viability of further GDP growth in rich nations, the Netherlands included, and follow a post-growth vision instead.

Download the executive summary of the report

The acknowledgement that transitioning to a society that is more ecological and more just will be fundamental if we want to live well on a finite planet, lays at the heart of the recently launched field of Planetary Health. Following a post-growth vision for planetary health presupposes a radically different way of organizing our societies and economies.

What could such a transformation look like? Degrowth is a post-growth paradigm which brings together a movement of people who are rethinking and redesigning ‘a good life for all within planetary boundaries’. The degrowth movement focuses its attention towards wealthy nations in the Global North, and calls upon them to deliberately decrease their energy and resource use in a just way to bring their economy back into balance with the living world. In a degrowth society, values such as care, autonomy and sufficiency will stand at the core. Our economy will know alternative ways of providing for our wants and needs.

What would a degrowth transformation in a rich nation like the Netherlands mean for how we think about health and organize care? To answer this question, we propose looking at what already exists. We would argue that degrowth envisions a world that is already in the making at the places in society where caring commoning practices are flourishing. One of these places is the growing movement of citizens’ initiatives in the Netherlands.

What can we learn from these dynamics of caring commoning practices at Dutch citizens initiatives as we shape the future of health and care beyond growth? What does this all mean for policy? In 2020, we conducted a qualitative study aiming to explore these questions. In our report Living Well on a Finite Planet – Building a Caring World Beyond Growth, we bring together the findings of our research.

On Tuesday the 6th of July, during the Fearless Cities Barelona conference, Commons Network researcher Winne van Woerden will present this research in a conversation with profesoor Susan Paulson, moderated by Thomas de Groot.

Here are some of our earlier dispatches about the topic of degrowth: