In the face of impending ecological crises brought about in the name of progress, it is clear that humanity can no longer continue to aspire to infinite growth in a world of finite resources. The socio-ecological fabric of civilisation has become brittle; our ever-increasing appetites have jeopardized the resources on which we have come to depend, diminishing our ability to adapt to changes of the kind we are likely to witness within our lifetimes.
There is increasing research into and awareness of the socio-economic and environmental benefits of downscaling production and transport to a local level. This is known as sustainable degrowth. The philosophy of sustainable degrowth proposes supplanting the ‘faster, higher, further’ paradigm of infinite growth with a downscaled economy whose focus is finding local or regional solutions to problems that are usually dealt with through an increasingly globalized framework.1 The fundamental objective is to change social organization and consumption habits in order to ensure sustainability and social equality for all.2
To quote ‘Research and Degrowth’ (an academic association, lead by the University of Barcelona, which researches, educates and raises awareness of the concept),
Establishing a consumer preference for small-scale production of sustainable products and, moreover, sustainable transport of those products, is an effective means of stimulating degrowth, with the potential to:
- Increase human well-being and enhance ecological conditions and equity on the planet;
- Support small-scale producers and create meaningful jobs;
- Promote cooperative (rather than competitive) trade;
- Preserve and foster culture and draw communities together;
- Combat over-exploitation of the environment - both terrestrial and maritime - by protecting small-scale, local industries that utilize renewable practices;
- An overall reduction in production, consumption and global freight.
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