April 18, 2024

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What if the Global North and Global South decide to focus on well-being and community resilience rather than GDP growth?

By Our Reporter

As the world continues to experience disasters such as climate-related disasters, ethnic wars, poverty and epidemic diseases, scientists in politics have observed that it is time for world leaders to rethink the way the world is governed. They find that concentration should be put on actions that promote well-being and community resilience without endangering ecological functioning.

For instance, politicians such as Dr. Frank Habineza, a Member of Parliament of Rwanda and President of Democratic Green Party of Rwanda finds that the idea of Degrowth and Green Politics can play an important role in reducing economic activity and consumption by creating a sustainable and equitable society that respects ecological limits.

Degrowth is seen as a response to the negative impacts of economic/GDP growth, such as environmental degradation and social inequalities.

 Proponents of degrowth argue that a focus on well-being and community resilience rather than GDP growth would lead to a better quality of life for all.

Speaking at the 5th Global Greens Congress which is taking place in Seoul, South Korea, Dr. Frank Habineza who was elaborating his ideas on “Degrowth and Green Politics: The African Perspective” noted that it is time to shift from business as usual to “radical redistribution, reduction in the material size of the global economy, and a shift in common values towards care, solidarity and autonomy.” 

He explained that “the Degrowth movement suggests we live differently, using less energy resources, moving less, producing only necessary products, living locally-based lives, caring for each other in order to have a sustainable future and an ecological economic growth.”

He noted that “Green politicians indeed need to support this idea of Degrowth movement in order to avoid the massive exploitation by the global north to the global south and safeguard the Earth’s natural resources and big loss of human lives-to causes that we could have been prevented.”

Dr. Frank Habineza elaborated on how the African continent has been exploited for many years- during colonization and post-colonization, not forgetting slave trade which robbed the continet most abled men and women who would have made wonders [ a lasting legacy to its economy] but ended up being used in the global north. 

As he explained “We all know that the booming economic growth in the global north has been powered at a huge expense of the African economy- the powers to be, exploited our natural resources- including minerals, forests, soil, water and human beings and left our continent begging.”

By citing an example, Dr. Frank Habineza said, recently the introduction of mobile phones has contributed to unending war in the Democratic Republic of Congo- because of a special mineral called Coltan – Cobalt columbite, which is used in every kind of electronic device and also needed to power mobile phones.”

“Big forests have been cut down in order to get timber by the Global North companies, this leading to unending effects of climate change, such as flooding, desertification, landslides, soil erosion, and indeed hunger and famine all leading to mass loss of live.”

However, he affirmed that such practices can be solved by considering the philosophical aspects of Degrowth movement.

The Man Who Adopted a Village in South Africa. Photos supplied/SA People News

“In Africa, many societies still live a way of life like that proposed by the Degrowth movement, we still live in our villages and fetch water from wells or springs, a few others from water pumps or taps, we still eat our locally produced organic food direct from our gardens, most people travel on foot, lucky ones have bicycles, motor-bikes and the few have cars. Public transport-especially travel by buses is still the norm.”  He said.

“BUT people are disgruntled, we know we deserve better, we are still stricken by poverty and un-ending wars which are caused by desire from the global north companies to exploit of our natural resources [ minerals, forests, ….]  leaving nothing behind for those communities to live on, and making us becoming clients to UNHCR [the United Nations High Commission for Refugees], and worst of all becoming refugees in our own countries after those massive floods and desertification and wars.” He added.

“This new way of life resonates well with our green principles of social justice and sustainable development. This should be our way of life.” He concludes.

What Philosophy behind “degrowth”?

According to the movement, English speakers sometimes find the word ‘degrowth’ problematic and it can lead to misunderstandings. Reading just the word, it has a negative, and for some, a non-ecological connotation. But the origin of the term is anything but that. It is to be found in Latin languages, where “la décroissance” in French or “la decrescita” in Italian refer to a river going back to its normal flow after a disastrous flood, so the world also should rethink the same way if the matter of community resiliency and well-being is concerned.

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