On the occasion of the 2023 conference at the European Parliament on how to move “beyond growth”, the European Environmental Bureau, Think Tank Oikos and Green European Journal joined hands to publish this special issue full of ideas for a more just society and a stable planet.
For us, this conference allows society, and especially EU decision-makers, to turn today’s geopolitical and geophysical crisis into an opportunity to disengage from the socially and ecologically damaging race for growth and embark on a new path. As academics, policymakers and members of civil society explain in this issue, Europe should embrace a postgrowth future as the basis of its new type of peace project. The seeds of change are already out there.
Advancing to a postgrowth society calls for a democratically planned and equitable downscaling of production and consumption, sometimes referred to as “degrowth”, in those countries that overshoot their ecological resources. The current climate chaos, which is rapidly unravelling the web of life on which our society depends, is an existential threat to peace, water and food security, and democracy. As Europe’s economic growth has helped lay the ground for conflict in the rest of the world, this shift is key to Europe’s global peace project.
Growth has long been society’s answer to economic equality and the social question, an alibi that has long ceased to hold in an era of inequality and ecological crisis. In a postgrowth economy, the current focus on quantitative growth would be replaced by the aim of thriving in a regenerative and distributive economy, one that delivers qualitative wellbeing by meeting the needs of all people within the means of the living planet, as elaborated by Kate Raworth in the concept of “doughnut economics”.
For the European Union, the transformation towards a postgrowth society calls for a different future-oriented narrative. We’ll need the political imagination to design a European Green Deal without growth and instead based on biocapacity, fairness, wellbeing for all, and active democracy.
In this issue, you will find inspiring ideas, examples and discussions of the many faces of a positive postgrowth future, one in which people and nature can thrive together.
Enjoy the reading.