Ecological reparations and degrowth: Towards a convergence of alternatives around world-making after growth
Faced with multiple crises, recent years have seen the rise of degrowth as a newly emerging field of research on alternatives to development in the global North, as well as increasing calls for ecological reparations to the global South to address the harm done by colonial, capitalist and extractivist development over the past centuries. This article makes a twofold argument about the need to closely interlink these. Both discourses, sets of policies and related movements could gain from strengthening their connections and a mutual integration of core perspectives and demands. On the one hand we argue that degrowth needs to develop into a global justice perspective by integrating demands for (ecological) reparations, freedom of movement and a global-justice oriented reshaping of the international economic system – demands most prominently articulated from global South movements. Without this global justice outlook, degrowth risks becoming an inward-looking, provincial, localized, and eventually exclusive project within Europe and the global North – one that focuses on securing decent living within Northern regions that are involved in "degrowth", but that is insulating itself from the catastrophes of the climate emergency unravelling in the most affected areas globally. On the other hand, demands for reparations – strongly articulated from the global South – should incorporate the call for degrowth in the global North. Without this call – which can, of course, be articulated by using different words – the reparations agenda risks a key opportunity to address core structural and systemic drivers of extractive processes that will negatively overcompensate all reparations. The fast and massive reductions of global North emissions that are necessary to guarantee non-repetition of past harms – while at the same time working to end the imperial mode of living and the global North appropriation of labor and – will require, so the argument, transformations in the rich countries along the lines of degrowth. To substantiate these arguments, the paper introduces degrowth scholarship, outlining the danger of a provincialized ostrich syndrome; it then presents five avenues of internationalist policies of what we conceptualize as worldmaking after growth; and finally spell out why the reparations agenda needs to incorporate degrowth.