My first conference about Degrowth!


How are you settling in to your new environment? The first year of my life at Lund went so fast! It seems like yesterday when I was walking in your shoes; first courses, first group work assignments, first grades, and after quite some time, the first summer break!

I had listed down things I wanted to do during the summer break this year. Traveling around and enjoying the off-days were among the top things on the list, but I did not want to forget everything that I had learned in Strategic Communication in the past year. So, I planned to find an internship and expected that I could apply the knowledge that I have gained so far to learn communication in practice from one of the best and most reputable companies in Sweden. Unfortunately, I kept receiving rejections from the companies as they said that I might not be the best candidate that they were looking for.

I was sad, but I did not give up. One day, I heard that one of my professors was looking for several students for a conference event in Malmö. So I grabbed the opportunity and it turned out to be one of my best experiences ever!

The conference was called the 6th International Degrowth Conference. It consisted of more than 150 parallel sessions about ecological sustainability and social equity. It was held for five days from 21 – 25 August 2018 in Folkets Park, Malmö. What I did was quite fun. I was part of the communication team and we worked with communication content like press release and posters, trying to map cultural groups and organizations that might be interested with the event, and handling the social media channels of the conference such as Twitter and YouTube among other things.

Little did I know that Degrowth is more like a social movement that aims for transformation. Researchers in the organization came up with Degrowth as a critique of growth in our economic, environmental, and social-cultural world. To me, this is a new terminology and it was very interesting!

Under the theme of Dialogues in Turbulent Times, the conference has collected around 700 people from academics, activists, artists, students, and all Degrowth enthusiasts. Here are some insightful highlights from the conference:

1.Keynote: Welfare without growth by Max Koch

Description: “The presentation introduces the concept of ‘sustainable welfare’. Central to this concept is the notion of human needs and how these could be satisfied for everyone, now and in the future, within planetary limits and without economic growth.”

2.Keynote: Resources for Hope: Moments of collective joy by Lynne Segal

Description: “…For it is increasingly clear to many that some form of utopian spirit, rejecting the commodified life enshrining consumption, competition and ubiquitous subservience to corporate market interests, is now essential for us to have any tolerable future at all. Just trying to envisage how we can help to create a more sustainable, peaceful and fairer world brings a certain audacity and energy to life, at least in the process of sharing such imaginings.”

3. *Opening ceremony

4. *Q&A session

5. *Demonstration under the theme “Justice for Malmö”

Description: The demonstration departed from Folkets Park and went around the city of Malmö. It covered 5 blocks: environmental justice, another economy and well-being, migration, right to the city and children & animals. After the demonstration, the session continued with public debate with politicians in welcoming the election in Sweden, scheduled two weeks after the demonstration.

Being a part of the organizing team and participating in the conference encouraged me to make a personal reflection. I saw people travelling from around the world to discuss the topics that are quite challenging to our way of life; something that we always take for granted like daily consumption, lifestyle, and political stances that might actually bring more harm than good to the planet and people.

The whole experience of being in a team of a social movement-based conference enlightened me. I feel like I have gained valuable experience of working in an intercultural setting, where everyone worked hard in equal positions without pay for collective-good reasoning. As an international student, this conference was another brain feeding moment that was very rewarding to my personal development!

All organizing team on stage on the last day of the conference

*Pictures taken by Martin Photography.