On Saturday 11 April a group of environment and development academics released a Manifesto for post-neoliberal development planning in the post-Covid-19 future.

By Giuseppe Feola

The Manifesto was published by the Dutch national newspaper Trouw and signed by 170 academics based at five Dutch universities, including myself and other members of Ontgroei: Crelis Rammelt (Assistant Professor Environmental Geography and International Development Studies), Federico Savini (Associate Professor in Environmental Planning, Institutions and Politics) and Julien-François Gerber (Assistant Professor of Environment and Development at the International Institute of Social Studies).

The Manifesto calls the Dutch Government to implement five key policy strategies for moving forward during and after the Covid-19 crisis:

  1. a move away from 'development' focused on aggregate GDP growth;
  2. an economic framework focused on redistribution;
  3. transformation towards regenerative agriculture;
  4. reduction of consumption and travel;
  5. debt cancellation.

This Manifesto brings to the forefront some fundamental concerns of degrowth scholars and activists, and shows that these concerns are close to the hearts and minds of many academics who may not (yet) see themselves as part of the degrowth community. Particularly relevant is the link between economic development, the loss of biodiversity and important ecosystem functions, and the opportunity for diseases like COVID-19 to spread among humans. The Manifesto proposes policies that, as research tells us, are critical for a more sustainable, equal and diverse society - one that can better prevent and deal with shocks, including climate change related ones, and pandemics to come.

The Manifesto in Dutch can be downloaded here. An English version of the Manifesto is available here.

About the author: Giuseppe Feola is an Associate Professor of Social Change for Sustainability at the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development at Utrecht University (the Netherlands) and a member of the Dutch Degrowth Platform Ontgroei.nl.