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Networking and exchange meeting No.1 –

communication of degrowth and socio-ecological transformation

Degrowth in post-communist European countries

In recent years, the degrowth movement has been growing in Western European countries. Whereas many organizations in Eastern Europe find it challenging to come out with the word degrowth and its concept. How does the post-communist history affect civil society today? What are the challenges on the way to social-ecological transformation? What can we learn from each other?

On the first weekend of April, the 1st networking meeting on degrowth and socio-ecological transformation took place in Brno, Czech republic. The main goal was to network organisations and individuals working on degrowth in order to identify common struggles and develop strategies for communicating degrowth to a broader civil society. We also spent some time collecting ideas for the conference on “Degrowth and socio-ecological transformation”, which will be held in Brno, Czech republic, September 8-11, 2022.

The following stakeholders took part at the 1st network meeting:

Degrowth core group Czech
  • alliance of organizations and individuals working on degrowth and socio-ecological transformation, involves people from academia as well as activists and artists (e.g. NaZemi, Re-set, Friends of the Earth)
  • follows 3 pillars:
    – inform (by publishing articles, videos, books, newsletter and creating a website)
    – educate (by giving presentations, talks, workshops)
    – connect (by organizing events, e.g. conference)
Konzeptwerk Neue Ökonomie, Germany
  • non-governmental grassroot organization working on socio-ecological transformation
  • thematic teams in 2022: climate justice, digitalisation and transformative education
  • aims to connect social movements, science and civil society – and create learning spaces for critical educational work
Degrowth Vienna, Austria
  • started as a group of activists to organize the international degrowth conference 2020, today a small team of paid people and many volunteers
  • focus on strategies of degrowth and socio-ecological transformation – built on the context in German speaking countries, bringing degrowth into Vienna and Austrian context and political space
  • http://www.degrowthvienna.org/en/landing-page/
Institut for political ecology, Zagreb, Croatia
  • non-governmental organization working on degrowth and democratization of public services
  • providing political economic information for society to create knowledge for action
  • group of researches working on sustainability indicators
  • educational work, e.g. green academy winter seminar on degrowth
  • http://ipe.hr/en/
Faculty of Sciences, Department of Environmental Philosophy, Bratislava, Slovakia
  • focus on the philosophical investigation of problems related to the relationship between human and nature, and on the reflection of the causes and socio-political consequences of environmental degradation, pollution, and the climate crisis
  • several PhD students are part of the department whose theses are focused on philosophical investigations on various aspects of the concept of Anthropocene
  • https://fns.uniba.sk/en/
Solidarity Economy Center, Budapest, Hungary
  • aims to create a supporting system for cooperatives, social enterprises and other organizations working according to solidarity economy principles
  • focus on building truly sustainable movements, e.g. build sustainable reproductive economy in a non market way such as house cooperatives
  • https://szolidarisgazdasagkozpont.hu/
Ena Banda, Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • policy lab, main activity is a film, video and social sphere research
  • building a degrowth core community in Slovenia, publishing articles, giving workshops
  • http://enabanda.si/en/
After getting to know each other and our main activities, we dived deeper into a conversation about our strategy and goals related to degrowth. As we shared our future visions, we could clearly see our common goal – a socially just and ecologically sustainable society, worldwide. And yet, the ways to get there may differ depending on the political context in various regions of Central and Eastern Europe. Our main goal this weekend was, on one hand, to share our own approaches to degrowth, to inspire and be inspired. On the other hand, we were looking for common struggles and questions to take with us for further discussion at the conference in September.
One of our common struggles is to bring the scientific degrowth movements closer to a broader civil society, at a time when green growth debates are still at the forefront. The degrowth concept is sometimes mistakenly perceived as one of sacrifice, often associated in the post-communist countries of the CEE region with giving up on achieving the Western standards. From a linguistic point of view, it is not easy to find a suitable translation of the word degrowth in Slavic languages, as the preposition “ne-” [in English “non-”] has negative connotations. An inspiring example came from the degrowth community in Croatia, which uses the preposition “od-”, meaning “to go away”, “to move on”, in our case from growth. In many languages, the English word degrowth is still used without translation, which makes it even more difficult to come out of the scientific academic bubble and collaborate with civil society.
It was inspiring to see all the different approaches we have to promote a social-ecological transformation. Some of us work primarily with social movements and civil society by creating discussion spaces, organizing events, and promoting transformative education work. Others are working with public policy, calling for legislative change and making public speeches.
And what do we take away? Networking degrowth movements across CEE regions is an encouraging experience. We want to go further and connect degrowth with various social movements that demand social justice and ecological sustainability. But how can we make degrowth more accessible? Who has time to think about the concept of degrowth? Who is speaking and who is being respected? We hope to discuss these questions and many more with experts from various fields at the conference on “Degrowth and Socio-ecological Transformation”, which will be held in Brno, Czech republic, September 8-11, 2022.

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Foto von Charlotte Hitzfelder

Visual components of the Erasmus+ programme

Foto von Charlotte Hitzfelder


Foto von Charlotte Hitzfelder

Foto von Charlotte Hitzfelder

Foto von Charlotte Hitzfelder

Foto von Charlotte Hitzfelder

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