Open Call for Hosting the Fourth International Conference

Closed: Open Call for Hosting the Fourth International Conference on Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity

Research and Degrowth (R&D) has promoted and co-organized four International Conferences on Degrowth in:

  • Paris (2008) hosted by Paris-Sud Telecom;
  • Barcelona (2010) hosted by the Autonomous University of Barcelona;
  • Montreal (2012) organized by the Université de Montréal, McGill University, Université du Québec à Montréal, HEC Montreal and Concordia University;
  • Venice (2012) organized by Associazione per la Decrescita, Spiazzi, IUAV, Universitá di Udine, Cittá di Venezia, Arci, Kuminda and Sesterzo.

These events were successful at:

  • Bringing together scholars and civil society and demonstrating a different way of organizing conferences;
  • Developing policy proposals and new research questions on degrowth in a wide range of areas;
  • Fostering direct participation and collaboration among participants;
  • Attracting significant attention from the general public and the media, and helping to publish in international academic journals a substantial body of research on Degrowth (nearly 50 articles in 3 years that have gone through normal peer review processes)

There is now a significant momentum, academic and social, around the idea of degrowth. Other conferences on degrowth have taken place recently in the same spirit in Canada, England, Finland, Germany, the Basque Country, etc. Each of these conferences has done a lot to advance the scientific discussion around degrowth, and to make the debate publicly visible.

Given this momentum, R&D wishes to facilitate, plan and organize the Fourth International Conference (foreseen for 2014). Within the plurality and increasing number of events on degrowth that we experience and participate in, we wish to develop a clear identity and philosophy for the International Conference as a regular and recognizable event where scholars, civil society and practitioners come together to update each other on their degrowth-related research and activities.

This is an open call for expressions of interest from parties who wish to organize the next conference. If you are interested please present your project, with the sub-title of the conference, in a few pages, explaining the general concept, giving information about the organizing team, possible space, program outline, organizational aspects, a preliminary budget, possible funding sources, structure of the conference, potential plenary speakers, and any other information relevant.

The minimum conditions for any proposal are:

  1. The title of the conference in English should be “Fourth International Conference on Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity”. This should appear in all material related to dissemination of the conference, including leaflets, website, etc. Variations on the title theme are possible in the local language, as needed to fit the local context and specifics of the language. It is recommendable to have also a thematic subtitle to indicate the specific focus of the conference.
  2. The official website of the conference should use the following domain (e.g. in order to make explicit the continuity among the different conferences.
  3. Ensure an informative web page in English (minimum) where the proceedings of the previous conferences with all their contributions are freely downloadable and, possibly, where the plenaries can be streamed or made available as a web video after the event.
  4. Include at least two representatives of R&D and the Support Group in the organizing committee.
  5. Organize the conference in a way that allows for active participation and meaningful interaction amongst scientists, activists and practitioners (building upon and improving the methodology used up to now), while ensuring a high quality of academic presentations, debate and interactions. Allowing time for discussion in plenaries, paper sessions and workshops is vital. We encourage you to consider including artistic elements.
  6. Consider ways to meet the expectations of all participants (researchers and activists, newcomers and “old hats”), depending on their expertise and level of experience for example by having introductory sessions about degrowth for beginners. Also consider ways to engage plenaries and sessions for cutting edge research, as well as session on networking meetings, and practical or activity workshops for practitioners and activists.
  7. The conference should not be sponsored by a multi-national corporation or bodies that are not coherent with the spirit of degrowth (e.g. big banks, mining companies, privatized public utilities) and preferably also not by commercial enterprises. The conference can be supported by public funding, participants’ fees, non-profit organizations and grassroots fund raising (e.g. crowdfunding).
  8. Have sessions open to the general public for one or two days (e.g. opening and/or closing ceremony, parallel events, special guest speakers, etc.).
  9. As much as possible, involve local and national public administrations, civil society and research institutions.
  10. Ensure multidisciplinarity, while focusing on certain themes and giving a balanced representation to all the sources of degrowth (ecological economics, ecology, democracy, anti-utilitarianism, development critique, well being, social justice, etc.)
  11. Ensure an innovative character, bringing and deepening new ideas, new links, new themes and avoid general presentations and general statements except at the introduction of the conference.
  12. Ensure that the conference builds upon, and develops further, the results of the previous conferences, assuring continuity and an accumulative process of knowledge generation. The next conferences shall follow-up on the collective process of deepening and linking degrowth proposals and research questions as initiated in Barcelona. This objective should be assigned to a specific organizational team.
  13. Foster participation and exchange involving communities with affinities from other research communities and social movements, such as feminism, post-development, buen vivir, Marxism, eco-socialism, anarchism, political ecology, environmental justice, post-capitalism, post-carbon, post-colonialism, post-extractivism, Occupy and Indignados, etc.
  14. The official language of the conference should be English and simultaneous translation for the plenaries and language mediation for conference sessions would be appreciated so as to ensure the effective engagement of all participants.
  15. The conference should have an international character and not be dominated by local participants. Ideally at least half of the registered participants should be of a nationality different than that of the host country. The organizing committee should encourage in all possible ways the registration of participants with a nationality different than the one of the host country. No more than 1/4 of the plenary speakers should be of the same nationality as the hosts.
  16. Both the invited key-note speakers and the paper givers should be as much as possible gender-balanced and with diverse geographical and cultural backgrounds.
  17. The conference should consider sustainability, justice and conviviality as a main criteria for its own organization, adopting measures for the safeguard of the environment (transport, logistics, waste, energy consumption…); the respect for people’s work, including voluntary work (time use, acknowledgement, forms of ?payment?…); care in the use of commodities and material resources (organization, general set up); the application of ecological sustainability and social equity criteria when choosing suppliers, promoting as much as possible local and fair economic subjects (especially as regards food).

We expect a conference structure that benefits from self-organization, cooperation and participation; that experiments with democratic processes and evaluation (e.g. working groups, small groups discussions and general assemblies); which brings researchers, civil society and practitioners together; and which has an international dimension and an excellent scientific level, which would be reflected by the membership of the organizing committee. We also expect great care to be made in the conviviality dimension of the conference and wish that some ?empty spaces and times? are left over for free exchanges and networking among the participants.

Deadline for submission: February 1st

Please send your proposals to:

Date on which decision (after consultation with organizers) will be announced: March 15th

The selection of the conference proposals will be done following the criteria mentioned in this call by a Support Group composed of members of R&D and representatives of the organizing committees of the hosting institutions which organized the previous conferences.

In the event of our receiving numerous proposals, we will discuss with proponents the option of national or regional conferences paving the process towards the Fourth Conference (as was the case of the Conference of the Americas bridging the 2nd conference in Barcelona with the 3rd Conference in Venice).

Research & Degrowth (R&D)


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