3rd Utrecht Degrowth Symposium: Sowing sustainability in food and agriculture

Image showing details of the symposium

The 3rd Utrecht Degrowth Symposium will take place on 29th September 2023, bringing together policymakers and civil servants, researchers, students, farmers, social movements, and other interested people to explore what a degrowth perspective can bring to the debate on agri-food system sustainability.

Degrowth emerged in the early 2000s as an academic and activist critique of our dominant socio-economic system which pursues growth at all costs, causing human exploitation and environmental destruction. It stimulates a search for alternatives beyond a ‘one‐way future consisting only of growth’ (Le Guin, 1982), and pushes us to imagine and practice forms of society and economy that do not need to endlessly grow to merely survive.

Degrowth prioritizes social and ecological well-being instead of corporate profits, over-production and excess consumption. This requires radical redistribution, reduction in the material size of the global economy, and a shift in common values towards care, solidarity and autonomy. It also means transforming societies to ensure environmental justice and a good life for all within planetary boundaries.

Sustainable agri-food systems are essential for societies to be able to thrive within planetary boundaries. The debate on agri-food systems sustainability is heated and multiple visions compete to cast light on the future of food production and consumption in the Netherlands and worldwide. Yet, the debate is also stuck in existing approaches and for many it has become difficult to imagine pathways to just and sustainable agri-food systems. In this context, can degrowth bring something new to the debate?

    Building on the first and second editions, at this year’s symposium invited speakers and participants will address the following questions:

    • What can degrowth contribute to the ongoing debate on agri-food system sustainability?
    • How would an agriculture sector that does not need to grow to merely survive look like in the Netherlands, and internationally?
    • Which degrowth-inspired policies and actions can contribute to transforming agri-food system toward sustainability? 


    13.00Doors open 
    13:15WelcomeGiuseppe Feola, Utrecht University
    13.30Lecture with Q&A
    A degrowth perspective on agri-food systems sustainability
    Julia Spanier & Jacob Smessaert, Utrecht University
    14.15Lecture with Q&A
    Degrowth scenarios for the food system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
    David Meng-Chuen Chen, Humboldt University Berlin & Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)
    Perspectives on Policy and Action: What degrowth-inspired policies and actions for a transformation of the agri-food system?

    Leonardo van den Berg, University of Twente, Toekomstboeren, Agroecologie Netwerk & European Coordination Via Campesina
    Mariana Calcagni González, Free University Berlin & Centro de Análisis Socio Ambiental
    Laura van Oers, Utrecht University & Ontgroei
    Roos Saat, part-time farmer & activist
    Christine Teunissen, Member of Dutch Parliament, Partij voor de Dieren

    Moderated by Federico Savini, University of Amsterdam

    17:00Reflections on degrowth and agri-food systems transformationGiuseppe Feola, Utrecht University
    17:10ClosingGiuseppe Feola, Utrecht University
    Start date and time
    End date and time
    Ruppert Wit, Marinus Ruppertgebouw, Utrecht University
    Entrance fee

    Registration is now closed, but you can join the waiting list here.