Arpita Bisht

Fri 28 January 2022
12:00 CET (Brussels time)

Degrowth And Post-growth In The Global South: The Necessity Of Alternatives

There are tensions between the North and the South with regards to the principle of degrowth and just transition discourses towards new economic models. The main argument is that the South still needs sustainable industrialisation. A consequence of this is that the idea of degrowth is less appealing in the South because the reality there is that their ecological footprint is still low, and the basic needs of the population have not yet been met. In order to understand this hesitance towards degrowth, it is important to appreciate how Southern movements position themselves in their resistance to the dominant development concepts and growth model, as well as the systemic alternatives that they practice. From this understanding, reciprocal solidarity between the North and the South can be built.

This talk explores what the ‘degrowth proposal’ means for the global South. The degrowth proposal, while having largely originated in the global North, has important implications for the global South. This is because it is founded on a critique of the neoliberal economic model of growth which has increasingly dominated economic policies across the world. This model has resulted, among others, in the expansion of extractivism, ecological degradation, deleterious socioeconomic transformations, and increasing economic and material inequalities. The talk will explore interlinkages that connect the global North and South through growth, particularly through extractivism. It will discuss how degrowth in the North is essential towards increasing ‘ecological space’ for large sections of populations in the global South.

It will also address the need for a critical re-examination of growth-centric ideas — both from the national policy perspective, as well as from the perspective of individuals within the global South — which is essential for tackling the massive challenges of the Anthropocene. In doing so, it will focus on exploring post-growth economics for the global South — a heterodox economic model which calls for growth where it is needed to ensure the necessary, basic, and decent energy and material needs of large sections of populations who continue to be deprived of basic needs. It will also simultaneously critique the highly inequitable and resource-intensive outcomes of ever-increasing economic growth in the global South. Here, some existing ideas and alternate economic models will also be discussed, particularly from India.

Finally, the talk will present how degrowth and post-growth can help build and intensify alliances of scholars, activists, citizens, and movements between the global North and South.
Arpita Bisht is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague, and an Associate Researcher at the Albert Hirschman Center for Democracy at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. She received her PhD from TERI School of Advanced Studies in New Delhi, India, and then pursued a Marie Sklodowska Curie LeADing Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the ISS in The Hague. Her research focuses on ecological distribution conflicts and social resistance movements against extractivism and environmental injustices. She also explores degrowth, post-growth and other alternative economics in the context of the global South with a focus on India.