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Conference: Food for Degrowth in Central Europe at CEU (Day 1) with a visit to Zsámboki Biokert (Day 2)

Food for degrowth in CE
Friday, May 13, 2022, 10:00 am – Saturday, May 14, 2022, 4:00 pm

This is a fossil fuel war’, Ukraine’s top climate scientist “Svitlana Krakovska notes that the roots of the climate crisis and invasion are in fossil fuels”. Indeed, our economic model relies 80% on fossil energies and has both an impact on the environment and peace. Fossil fuel combustion represents 70% of climate change impacts and plays a fundamental role in our everyday life. From housing to our health system, transport to food production, we are indebted to industrial processes and supply chains which are reliant on an ever increasing demand for more fossil fuel energy. In recent years the Degrowth movement, through research and practice, has provided a critical voice questioning this model of society. Infinite growth on a finite planet is neither possible nor desirable, and is absurd in its ignorance of the physical and social limits of the planet, and drives civilization towards barbarity.

Acknowledging this reality, we would like to invite you to a conference event co-organized by Sustainable CEU, the CEU Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy, and Cargonomia which will explore the prospects for Degrowth in the Central European context, with a particular focus on food production systems. With the input of key regional degrowth experts, we will reflect and debate on how degrowth in practice, as a new matrix of expertise, action and policy, can respond to the environmental, social and peace challenges we face while highlighting the potential of existing food system alternatives within the region. Join us to continue the convivial debate on how degrowth offers a meaningful analysis of the current situation while presenting pathways for peaceful transition from fossil fuel dependency.

Event Registration: Please register for participation in the event here.

Conference Program:

Day 1- Friday May 13th, Central European University, Nador Street 15 Room 103

Session 1 (10:00- 12:00) Introduction to Degrowth with Authors Vincent Liegey and Anitra Nelson

As a sense of urgency pervades, the degrowth movement burst into the mainstream. In short, as growth driven climate catastrophe looms, degrowth is a political response based on changing how we live. Exploring Degrowth: A Critical Guide counters obsessions with growth to demand a slowing of our economies, reorientation around provision of basic needs for all, supported by political autonomy and cultures of living within Earth’s limits. As the authors discuss the practices and strategies of the movement, identifying its strengths and weaknesses, they examine ‘frugal abundance’, horizontal democracy, ‘open relocalisation’, conviviality and reduced paid work to argue why degrowth is a compelling and realistic project.

Vincent Liegey is an engineer, interdisciplinary researcher, spokesperson for the French degrowth movement and co-author of Décroissance, Fake or Not (Tana Editions, 2022). He is also the coordinator of Cargonomia — a center for research and experimentation on degrowth, a social cooperative for sustainable logistical solutions and local food distribution using cargo-bikes in Budapest.

Anitra Nelson is Honorary Principal Fellow at Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, University of Melbourne, Australia and co-author of Exploring Degrowth, co-editor of Life Without Money and author of Marx's Concept of Money. She has just published ​​Beyond Money A Postcapitalist Strategy (Pluto Press, 2022).

12:00 – 13:00 Lunch

Session 2 (13:30-15:00) Food for Degrowth in Central Europe

In 2020, Food for Degrowth (Anitra Nelson and Ferne Edwards, Routledge) was published with several contributors active in Central Europe. The book aims to break new ground by investigating applications of degrowth in a range of geographic, practical and theoretical contexts along the food chain. The round table will feature several authors featured in the publication and focus on the prospects of food system change as a catalyst for Degrowth transition in Central European countries.

With Logan Strenchock (Cargonomia, Central European University)
Petr Jehlička (Department of Ecological Anthropology, Czech Academy of Sciences)
Facilitator: Lili Balogh (President of Agroecology Europe, Hungarian Agroecology Network)

Session 3 (15:30-17:00) Action Research and Experiments with Degrowth in Practice

Degrowth questions conventional scientific knowledge creation and research which differentiates between trained researchers and research subjects and encloses scientific knowledge in academia. Degrowth also calls for active participation in shaping our World. Action research therefore plays an important role within the degrowth movement to connect academia with empirical reality and to experiment degrowth in practice. The session aims to present concrete examples which explore how democratic knowledge creation can enhance new pathways toward socially and ecologically just futures.

With Orsolya Lazanyi (Cargonomia, Corvinus University of Budapest)
Melinda Mihaly (Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Eötvös Loránd Research Network)

Cecilia Lohász (Város és folyó Egyesület, Valyo)
​​​​​​​Boglárka Méreiné Berki - Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, University of Szeged 

Session 4 (17:30-19:00) Prospects of Degrowth In Central Europe

In the last decade several debates, conferences, publications reached the Post-Socialist countries. In 2016, the 5th International Degrowth Conference took place in Budapest. The next one will be hosted in Zagreb in September 2023. In between, the region, in particular Hungary, became the center of illiberalism. The large cities, like Budapest or Zagreb elected left-green mayors. How is degrowth, culturally, in practice, and politically in such a context?

With Mladen Domazet (Institute of Political Ecology, Zagreb)
Alexandra Köves (Corvinus University of Budapest)
Facilitator: Vincent Liegey

Day 2 – Saturday May 14th, Zsámboki Biokert, Organic Farm, Zsámbok, Hungary

10:00-12:00 Visit and Tour of Zsámboki  Biokert, and introduction to short food supply chains in Hungary

12:00-14:00 Organic Lunch

14:00-16:00 Case Study workshop: The State of Agroecology in the BioEast Region: Central Europe & the Baltic and Balkan Regions