Cities cover only 2% of the planet but consume 75% of its raw materials and energy. In 2050, urbanization will demand ten times the volume of materials, water, and energy that it demands today. It will also produce 80% more waste. To meet targets for reducing cities’ emissions and material footprint, we need to downscale and slow down urban production and consumption. We need circular ways of producing urban environments that promote wellbeing and, at the same time, regenerate the ecosystem.
Urban inhabitants are not equally responsible for the ecological burden that cities place on the planet. Small groups of wealthy individuals increasingly profit from the privatization and exploitation of urban resources. At the same time, a large portion of the world’s population has no access to minimal living standards. While essential urban services are being privatized and commodified, many people cannot afford to live in cities and those who can have no access to essential urban services, like housing, healthy food and sustainable mobility.
It is vital to address the twin challenge of social equality and ecological regeneration.
Those who promote postgrowth cities seek high standards of living for all urban inhabitants. Such cities would achieve those standards while minimizing their footprint to meet ecological targets. This is a radical approach to sustainability that is also socially just. In putting social and political dynamics before technology, the movement toward postgrowth cities prioritizes urban justice and ecological regeneration
The notion of degrowth provides a concrete and viable strategy for realizing this ambition. Degrowth envisions institutions that are able to slow down and close a city’s metabolism, as well as reduce the volume of raw materials and products circulating through it. To that end, it questions private property, speculation, and efficiency-oriented plans for innovation. Instead, degrowth urges that cities should be seen as a commons to be maintained and democratically governed. A postgrowth city decouples its inhabitants’ wellbeing from urban expansion.
As a coalition, we conduct research and share practices that concern the negative effects of urban growth on nature; marginalized, racialized, and gendered communities; as well as people’s physical and mental wellbeing. We advocate low-impact and convivial urban living. We sustain movements that pressure institutions for social and ecological justice.
It is vital that we collaborate to create cities for social justice within ecological boundaries.