Degrowth: A Theory of Change


By popular request, here is a repeat of the presentation that kicked off the degrowth panel at the Auckland Climate Festival, October 2022. In his opening remarks to the panel’s audience, New Zealand’s climate change minister, James Shaw, said that Aotearoa needs to have a “critical conversation” about degrowth and solve how to downscale the economy, so “pass me the notes so that we can get on with it”.


Using the festival theme of ‘Ancestor, me’, this presentation explains degrowth as an overarching theory of change for the 21st century that compares favorably to the normal idea of sustainable growth. It will take many progressions at individual, enterprise, provisioning system and policy levels to make degrowth happen. What’s needed now are political and business leaders who are prepared to call for degrowth as the new normal.

Versions of this presentation have also been given to the Sustainable Value team in the New Zealand practice of global consulting firm KPMG at the invitation of Sarah Bogle and Laura Stewart, as well as to women leaders in social impact in the UK and Ireland, convened by social entrepreneur Lucy Findlay MBE of Social Enterprise Mark CIC.

Other Auckland Climate Festival Degrowth Panel members (whose presentations are not available online) included Tori McNoe, who used the power of storytelling with the pūrākau of Pourangahua to point to the power of indigenous knowledge to unravel and ground degrowth values; Ben van Bruggen, who used the lens of urban planning to show how a city approach to degrowth means getting more uses, for longer, out of sustainably-designed spaces; and Bill Murphy, who used his knowledge of New Zealand impact-driven startups to show that degrowth-aligned businesses are already being born. Moderator Dewy Sacayan knitted these diverse presentations together with on-the-spot insights. The event was coordinated by Ger Tew at Impact Hub Auckland and hosted by Michael Worth at the Auckland office of global consulting firm Grant Thornton. Auckland Climate Festival was founded by Michelle Kennedy.


Featured image by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash.

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