About the project
We bring the discussion about a degrowth society to Vienna level!
The vision of a Degrowth City (“Solidarische Postwachstumsstadt”), is oriented on the good life for all within ecological boundaries. This can only be realized if basic societal functions are growth independent. we explore the question of what this can mean for Vienna and in Vienna. With a perspective on local and global relations, urban structures and organization, we want to think critically and constructively about Vienna’s urban development.
As we are convinced that transformation needs alliances, we want to do this together with actors who are already pushing the socio-ecological transformation on Vienna’s level. We will also explore concepts like the care revolution, doughnut economics, circular economy, commons and the foundational economy in workshops, talks and discussions.
You can find news and events about our project “Solidarische Postwachstumsstadt” on our social media channels. If you would like to join the project or support our work, we would be happy to hear from you!
More infos on the topic:
Presentation of the book “Postwachstumsstadt” at the Degrowth Vienna 2020 Conference
Discussion “Good Housing for All” at the Degrowth Vienna 2020 Conference
Narratives of the Postwachstumsstadt
The socio-environmental challenges of our society manifest themselves in a special way in cities. Vienna faces problems such as heat islands, segregation and lack of open space. In order to face the various challenges and the advancing climate crisis, urban policy is increasingly focusing on ‘sustainable development’: the supposed reconciliation of economic, social and environmental aspects. This is based on the assumption that emissions and resource consumption can be reduced while the economy continues to grow. Vienna’s urban policy is also based on this paradigm.
Vienna’s Smart City Climate Strategy states: „Wien ist 2030 als Standort für kreislauforientierte und ressourceneffiziente Wirtschaft global bekannt und zieht Investitionen und Talente in diesem Bereich an.“ [“By 2030, Vienna is known worldwide as a location for a circular and resource-efficient economy and attracts investment and talent in this field.”] By 2040, Vienna aims to achieve climate neutrality, improved quality of life and environmentally friendly urban planning. The urban development plan STEP 2035 promises a path to a “climate-friendly, social and robust city”.
To date, according to a systematic review of various studies, there is no example of a successful and timely absolute decoupling of economic growth and environmental damage. Furthermore, self-determination and political participation are being abandoned in favour of technocratic solutions and commercialisation. The system is sustained by the unpaid and underpaid labour of FLINTA* people. As a result, urban dwellers are confronted with numerous problems, such as rising rents and energy costs, and the increasing precarisation of living conditions. At the same time, cities bring together major transformative forces at different levels: from universal access to basic infrastructure to the organisation of political groups and the potential of hard-won everyday spaces.
Degrowth Vienna brings together the degrowth debate and urban space, juxtaposing old narratives with new ones.
NEIGHBOURLINESS AND THE GOOD LIVE
When it comes to the question of how land, and thus living space, is used or sold in cities, we often find non-transparent processes that are strongly subject to commercial interests. In the case of private property, the commercial logic is omnipresent, leading to phenomena such as the eviction of tenants with open-ended contracts, investor apartments, and now an overhang of expensive privately financed housing in new construction.
But even in the case of publicly owned land, the highest levels of administrative policy seem to think first about which commercially exploitable activities can be implemented. This exacerbates crises in housing availability, the distribution of public space and the marginalisation of disadvantaged groups.
In addition to the satisfaction of basic needs through material goods, such as affordable housing, affordable energy, and access to health, care, and education, the social and non-material needs of city dwellers are addressed, and coexistence is placed at the center.
- Spaces of appropriation for all! Access and the possibility to appropriate urban spaces and to live everyday culture lead to high life satisfaction, independent of personal situations (income, work, education). Whether it is public space that invites people to occupy it, or event spaces and cultural centers that can be used and played in an autonomous and affordable way.
- Put the needs of the city’s residents first! The first question to be asked when public land is put to a new use should be which urgent needs of the neighborhood can be met there. Socio-cultural infrastructures for all must be strengthened. The City of Vienna also anchors social-ecological added value in private projects through urban development contracts, so that everyone makes a fair contribution to the community. Further steering elements for a good life in the city are the adjustment of housing subsidies, ecological criteria for awarding contracts and the revision of development concept
SOLIDARITY INSTEAD OF PRECARITY
Today’s economy is pushing people into precarious situations at every turn, making it often impossible to stay afloat. Energy costs are unaffordable for more and more people, especially in the winter of 2022/23. Unpaid and unvalued care work makes up a large part of the working hours, with FLINTA*s taking over most of it. In urban planning, the focus is on neoliberal glamour projects. The everyday use of the city by its inhabitants is increasingly pushed into the background.
In a post-growth city, living together will be based on solidarity. Solidarity is based on different pillars. The outlines are mapped here, the concrete has to be negotiated.
- Bring everyday life into focus! There are collectively produced infrastructures and services that are essential for a secure and successful everyday life. Services of general interest, local supply, material, social and cultural infrastructures are available on a low-threshold basis. In contrast to other cities, Vienna has an advantage here because the city already owns or at least significantly influences a large part of the infrastructure (housing, energy supply, mobility, health, care, etc.). This must be implemented even more radically in Vienna and also in other cities in the sense of a post-growth city of solidarity!
- Basic services must be secured for all people! Universal Basic Income (UBI) and Universal Basic Services (UBS) are both proposals for a collective livelihood security. In a post-growth city it is important to undermine the market-based mechanisms with collective responsibility.
- Socio-ecological infrastructures are characterized by accessibility, affordability and environmental sustainability. They are essential levers as they shape lifestyles and behaviors and prefigure individual responsibility and choices.
- Feminist economics in a society based on solidarity, oriented towards human needs, care for each other and for the environment. This is positioned at the center of economic practices as well. In this degrowth future, people of all genders dedicate a part of their life time to care work and thus contribute to the necessary cultural change to redefine, redistribute and valorize care work. Existing power relations are shattered and political participation is made possible. Other core elements are fair income, reduction of working hours and social infrastructure (kindergartens, education, care, counseling).
RIGHT TO A POST-GROWTH CITY INSTEAD OF TECHNOCRACY
“Smart” urban planning should both effectively combat the climate crisis and increase the prosperity and happiness of the urban population. This is done under the scientific guidance of experts who work closely with actors from politics and business. As a result, public goods are increasingly being eroded, made more expensive and inaccessible, sacrificed to international location competition, and the residential population is being displaced. Market-oriented urban planning seems to have no alternative within neoliberal rationality and capitalist reality.
Citizen participation such as online surveys, local idea competitions, and data donations are supposed to involve residents in the urban planning process, but they serve more to gather information and legitimize technocratic and economic policies than to serve people’s interests. Instead, the increase in competitiveness, growth and adaptation to market demands are central goals, which are measured by economic indicators.
- Post-growth city for all! The post-growth city of solidarity is constantly recreating itself through the participation of all residents on an eye-to-eye level! A post-growth city means overcoming top-down as well as bottom-up planning. For this it is necessary to make inequalities and injustices, but also conflicts visible! Previously suppressed and silent positions will be heard, hierarchies and power structures will be dismantled!
- Create alternatives to the lack of alternatives together! Creative, realistic and diverse solutions for collective problems are found and implemented together! A post-growth city of solidarity needs the plurality of opinions, perspectives and knowledge, instead of narrowing the spaces of the thinkable and possible by a self-destructive international competition of locations.
- Re-Claim the space! It is about a comprehensive expansion and deepening of democratic processes, about the (re)appropriation of the city by the people who reside, live and work in it! We are concerned with the re-appropriation of places of everyday encounters and public life. The (re-)democratization and (re-)politicization of all areas of life in the city is not only the way to a post-growth city, but at the same time one of its many goals! Self-empowerment and self-efficacy are to take the place of mere political representation and the subsequent resignation.
With this list we do not claim to be complete, but only want to show examples that can pave the way to a post-growth city of solidarity.
- Schlor https://schlor.org
- SOLAWI https://solawi.life/Regionen/wien/ / https://www.garteln-in-wien.at/solidarische-landwirtschaft-csa/
- 4lthangrund https://www.4lthangrund.jetzt
- Reparaturwerkstätten https://www.repanet.at / https://www.velopeaches.com https://lenkerbande.at
- Mitmach Supermarkt / https://www.mila.wien
- Bikes & Rails / Habitat https://www.bikesandrails.org/wp/
- Garage Grande https://garagegrande.at
- Zukunftshof https://www.zukunftshof.at/
- Kostnixläden https://www.kostnixladen.at
Dominik Wiedenhofer et al. 2020: TOPICAL REVIEW. A systematic review of the evidence on decoupling of GDP, resource use and GHG emissions, part I: bibliometric and conceptual mapping, Environ. Res. Lett. 15/2020.
Anton Brokow-Loga, Frank Eckhardt (Hrsg.) 2020: Postwachstumsstadt. Konturen einer solidarischen Stadtpolitik. München: oekom.