Security in a Post-Growth Europe - Points of View from CEE and the Global South
In October and December 2023, the BlueLink Foundation held two workshops seeking the perspectives of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Global South on the concept of degrowth in Europe.
The events focused on issues such as peace, security and economic transformation. They are part of BlueLink project activities The Geopolitics of a Post-Growth Europe, implemented by the European Green Foundation (GEF) with the support of the Wetenschappelijk Bureau GroenLinks and five other European partners, including BlueLink, and with the financial support of the European Parliament.
On 11 October 2023, the discussion Geopolitics of Degrowth in a Conflicted Europe took place in a hybrid format: online via Zoom, and onsite in Leipzig, as part of the open space of the International Round Table REVOLUTIONALE, traditionally held by the German Peaceful Revolution Foundation. The second discussion was organized on 11 December. It took place online and focused on countries in the Global South.
The workshops gave the floor to researchers, activists and politicians from a number of countries, including Bulgaria, Hungary, Greece, Canada, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Brazil, Turkey, India, Georgia, Ukraine. They discussed whether a future in which we consume more sparingly but live better is possible, and if this would enable Europe to build strength and resilience amid multiple military conflicts.
The participants discussed the possible benefits and negative consequences of the degrowth. Development and innovation in technology, a reduction in commercial dependence on third countries and a shift towards more sustainable and ethical consumer behavior were cited as possible pluses.
Casper Wits, a foreign policy specialist for China and Japan, revealed that within a few decades, minerals could become an almost fully circular industry. There is a risk that the economic rethinking will push Europe to the fringes of the geopolitical scene, but it could also lead to new partnerships, for example with China, Wits stressed.
The path of degrowth will certainly require sacrifice of comforts that people in developed countries are accustomed to. However, this can give momentum for development of quality, efficient and accessible public services. Participants gave different ideas of how this could happen: compulsory military service in exchange for a shorter work week, better public transport, quality production and prioritizing repair work over replacement with new products.
Pavel Antonov, executive editor of BlueLink, and participants in Leipzig
The two workshops provided an opportunity to raise questions and concerns about the eventual degrowth in Europe. Zehra Yasin, a lecturer at Ankara University of Social Sciences, emphasized that in order to find good geopolitical solutions, one should first study the process of the Global South's integration in the world economy. Luciana Maia, CEO of Futurbanos, expressed concern about the economic consequences for Europe’s partners from the Global South. Shahin Nasiri, lecturer in Political Philosophy at Tilburg University, gave food for thought on whether it is possible for Europe to embrace the idea of degrowth, given the inherent antagonism of capitalism.
Knowing that not every question has a definitive answer, the organisers of the events promoted creativity, analytical thinking, and a fresh approach to the challenge.
The project The Geopolitics of a Post-Growth Europe is organised by the Green European Foundation with the support of Wetenschappelijk Bureau GroenLinks, Fondation de l’Ecologie Politique, Etopia, Transición Verde, BlueLink Foundation, Center for Green Politics, and Green House think tank, and with the financial support of the European Parliament to the Green European Foundation.
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