Movement History

A brief overview of the International Assemblies of the Degrowth Movement and of the birth of the IDN.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels

For several years, the degrowth movement has been working persistently to build community and connection between groups and across borders - whether through annual Degrowth Conferences or the more informal Degrowth Assemblies that have often accompanied them.

Christiana Town Assembly 2018

During the first International Assembly of the Degrowth Movement, participants created several international degrowth working groups, such as Activists and Practitioners, Research, Communication, Networking, Artists and Designers, Narratives, and Education, in order to provide the degrowth movement with opportunities for both theoretical and practical engagement at the local and global level.

The Hague Assembly 2021

At the following Degrowth Assembly in 2021, attendees further explored the idea of a decentralised international network that would “move beyond the academic sphere” and “establish stronger strategic alliances with movements that are engaged in similar struggles.” This network was to be built on degrowth values of decoloniality, intersectionality, inclusivity, and global solidarity. There was also a call for a “stronger international structure of support… that would promote campaigns with clear slogans” as well as support local groups, facilitate large actions, address a lack of continuity within the movement and help build a political identity. The 2021 Assembly also discussed the practical considerations of how to balance leadership with democratic decision-making or how to apply governance systems, such as sociocracy, that were designed for organisations to a large network. 

Vienna Assembly 2022

Degrowth groups continued to explore ways to build connection and provide the degrowth movement with a consistent voice without jeopardising its plurality and autonomy. However, this remained challenging due to the limited capacities of volunteer-run groups, unclear communication pathways, and unevenly distributed resources. In 2022, the third Degrowth Assembly decided to address these challenges directly and discussed the possibility of creating a coordination group that could help solve problems between different working groups and provide guidance on a spokesperson for the movement, budget allocations, and the implementation of new projects. Recognising the level of planning needed for such an endeavour, the 2022 Assembly created an open collective entitled Organising the Degrowth Network, or ODN, with the mandate of proposing a structure for an international degrowth network and outlining ways it could make democratic decisions on behalf of the movement.

Zagreb Assembly 2023

During the following year, ODN members held numerous conversations, researched and evaluated different governing structures and decision-making processes, and sought and integrated feedback from within the degrowth movement. The ODN took inspiration from a renewed emphasis on strategy within the degrowth movement and the plea to create “an intentional organisational structure that can facilitate more effective strategising amongst degrowth actors, while also addressing problematic power dynamics, colonial attitudes, and patriarchal biases.” At the fourth Degrowth Assembly, the ODN presented a final draft of a proposal that included a list of degrowth values that would steer the network, a series of governing principles based on sociocracy, and guidance on using various tools to distribute power, such as how to create proposals, facilitate meetings, and assign people to roles. 

On August 28th 2023, nearly 100 individuals representing over 25 degrowth groups and organisations from around the world gathered to discuss the proposal and gave feedback on its principles, structure, and its place within the future of the degrowth movement. The Assembly concluded by adopting the proposal and officially launching the International Degrowth Network (IDN) with various Circles dedicated to its continual improvement. You can watch the entire assembly recording here.