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Economy and livelihoods after Covid-19

A global on-line symposium of the International Degrowth Network and the International Society for Ecological Economics
September 1 to September 4th, 2020, University of Manchester
The sessions will be in the afternoons. All times below are BST

Join us for this symposium over four days. We’ll be considering the implications of the global Covid-19 pandemic for economy and livelihoods. The Covid-19 pandemic and responses to it have had deeply unequal impacts on lives, livelihoods and well-being across race, gender and class. At the same time it has opened up the space for new possibilities for building alternative livelihoods and economies that can take us beyond a capitalist economy that requires ever expanding growth. Will we go back to business as usual with all the ecological, social and economic risks that will bring or take the path towards a new kind of economy that provides for human needs of all while restoring and protecting the natural world that we all depend on?

Provisional outline programme

Tuesday 1st September
Session 1: Introduction to ecological economics and degrowth

What are degrowth and ecological economics and how can they help us think and work for a different future, post Covid?
Introduction: Rationale of the roundtable by Joshua Farley and Federico Demaria
Would an alliance between ecological economics and degrowth help both communities achieve their shared goals? Why or why not? If yes, how do we strengthen it?


  1. Ecological economics: Bina Agarwal (Confirmed), Julia Steinberger (Confirmed) and Emanuele Campiglio (TBC)
  2. Degrowth (Confirmed): Ekaterina Chertkovskaya, Ksenija Hanacek, Matthias Schmelzer

Session 2: Gender, livelihood and the impact of Covid

This session is organized by the Feminisms and Degrowth Alliance (FaDA). It contains intersectional feminist reflections on Covid-19 and the politics of social reproduction, the Care Income, and the politics of care and commons in a context of ecological crisis. After a brief introduction to FaDA by Corinna Dengler, who hosts this session alongside Katy Wiese, we are looking forward to mini-inputs (7-10 minutes) by:

  1. Anna Saave on the pandemic as an opening for a care-full radical transformation;
  2. Susan Paulson on Covid-19, care & masculinities;
  3. Selma James and Nina López from the Global Women's Strike on the Care Income; and
  4. Manuela Zechner on the politics of care and commons in a context of ecological crisis.

Following these inputs, there will be time to discuss the question how care can be organized in a degrowth society that strives for both intersectional gender and environmental justice first amongst the panelists and later on with the audience.

Session 3: Post COVID-19 challenges and options for adjusting Africa’s strategic vision and policy practice in pursuit of the SDGs (exact title TBD)

Rashid Hassan, 2020 Boulding Prize Winner

Wednesday September 2nd
Sessions 4 and 5: Indigenous and Black communities and the impact of Covid (12.00-14.00 and 14.30-16.30)

This session will be drawn from members of indigenous and black communities. Themes will include: consideration of the impact of Covid, environmental injustices and the new authoritarianism on black and indigenous communities; perspectives on creating and strengthening social and economic alternatives.

Session 4

Confirmed speakers:

  1. Ailton Krenak (Brazil)
  2. Felipe Milanez (Brazil)
  3. Zulma Zamora (Peru)

Session 5

Confirmed speakers:

  1. Manuel May (Mexico)
  2. Annie Moon (Navajo Nation)
  3. Kevin Williams (Black American)

Further speakers to be confirmed
Invited moderator: Carolyn Finney

Thursday September 3rd
Session 6: Class, livelihoods and alternative production

This session will consider the impact of Covid and an ecological economy after Covid through class and livelihood. It will draw on movements by labour to shift to alternative systems of production. How can production be redirected in more democratic ways to meet human needs? It will draw on the experience of the Lucas Plan, applying the lessons to the present context.

Confirmed speakers:

  1. Hilary Wainwright (editor of Red Pepper)
  2. Phil Asquith (Lucas Workers Combine)
  3. Mick Cooney (Lucas Workers Combine)

Further speakers to be confirmed

Session 7: Reflections: Making change happen

This session will reflect on the week’s colloquium discussions. The panel will be drawn from authors of recent books on degrowth and ecological economics. Themes might include: strategies and policies; incumbent interests and power; political mobilisation; responding to the new authoritarianism; social movements.

Confirmed speakers:

  1. Vincent Liegey
  2. Susan Paulson
  3. Neera Singh

Further speakers to be confirmed

Friday September 4th
Interventions from the Arts
Session 8: Decentralising Political Economies

Decentralizing Political Economies is an open-source research platform launching in September 2020. Set up as a long-term collaboration between The City Lab at Liverpool John Moores University, the Whitworth Art Gallery and The Association of Arte Útil, it explores the idea of usership in art through the implementation of real-world 1:1 scale projects in which artworks are themselves open-ended and functioning projects in the real world.

This session will introduce notions of ‘usership’ and the ‘constituent-led’ in art and art institutions. In discussion with artist Owen Griffiths, whose recent projects include a community growing garden, the session will consider alternative modes of ownership and rethinking livelihood in the context of civic space and urban landscapes.


  1. Poppy Bowers (The Whitworth, The University of Manchester)
  2. John Byrne (Liverpool John Moores University, School of Art and Design/City Lab)
  3. Owen Griffiths (Owen Griffiths Studio)
  4. Alessandra Saviotti (Asociación de Arte Util)

Session 9: Art and Degrowth – participants to be confirmed

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Building Alternative Livelihoods in times of ecological and political crisis

Postponement of conference until July 5th 2021

It will not come as a surprise that given the global Covid 19 pandemic we have been forced to postpone the conference. We do so with deep regret. The conference is now planned to go ahead in the week of July 5th 2021. The conference will retain is existing overarching theme of ‘Building Alternative Livelihoods’. It will also keep existing subthemes. However, clearly the overarching theme has new importance in the light of the global pandemic. We will be sending out a new additional call in September 2020 looking more specifically at the implications of the Covid 19 pandemic for building and rebuilding alternative livelihoods. It is planned that the conference in July 2021 will have a much larger virtual component than the original conference planned for September 2020.

We do deeply regret having to postpone the conference until next year. The team at Manchester did explore the possibility of doing the conference as a virtual conference in September 2020. However, given the lockdown in the UK and after discussion with the conference administration at Manchester University, it become apparent that the capacity did not exist to do this in September 2020. The plan is to have a larger virtual component to the conference in 2021.

We would like to thank you for your patience in waiting for this update. We are sorry we could not announce it sooner. As you can imagine it has been very difficult to reorganise the dates of the conference in current conditions.

The Local Organising Committee, Manchester

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