Lessons from the Enough Campaign in Slovenia

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In this second part we summarize the results of the campaign and reflect on potential next steps for a Slovenian transformation.

The key accomplishments of „Enough“ are the website , series of round table discussions with foreign and home key speakers, forming and developing of the regional degrowth network (Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary) with regular regional annual meetings, participating at International degrowth conferences in Venice and Leipzig, beginning of mapping the alternatives supporting the degrowth idea and getting in touch with people and initiatives that are working within the field in Slovenia.

Key lesson learned was that people are not likely to be engaged in a debate about degrowth, as they believe that growth is needed and means prosperity. However, they are likely to support solutions offered by degrowth, such as shorter working time, basic income, cooperative production etc. The NGOs involved in the campaign, Focus and Humanitas, also implemented a few actions, mainly in the field of consumption, to raise the awareness about the consequences of consumption. The last major activity was the organization of a set of debates on degrowth, whereby experts from abroad (UK, Croatia, Hungary) met experts from Slovenia and debated issues related to degrowth. Each of the debates was media covered in the main national newspapers.

Despite the support of professional NGOs „Enough“ has never really taken off fully. This is mainly due to a lack of time for an exhaustive discussion of degrowth-related concepts. Hence, we were unable to develop a clearer strategy of the campaign and its activities. We are still trying to give the campaign a full swing, but there are still many unsolved problems: how to communicate the concept, how to run campaign with insufficient resources, how to build new partnerships, etc. In this context, the latest degrowth conference in Leipzig was a useful platform, not only to meet new people and expand the cooperation, but also to get a better understanding on degrowth and its related topics.

Public discourse about a vision for well-being in Slovenia

In September the Slovenian Parliament confirmed a new government. It will have to deal with economic crisis, systemic corruption and citizens’ apathy. Additionally, the new government faces significant decisions about the way of Slovenian development: are we going to privatize as much as possible, from successful state companies to natural resources e.g. water and forest? What kind of foreign investors do we want to attract, if any? How much more state bonds we would like to sell or how much public debt do we want to leave to our future generations? etc.

This is a good moment to rethink the situation in Slovenia. As each of us desires well-being – while the perceptions of what well-being differs from person to person – it is of key relevance that the development vision of Slovenia is thoroughly debated among its citizens. It is important to discuss how we could reach a satisfactory level of well-being, yet remaining within the environmental and societal limits. It is necessary to think how to make a transition from an economic model that is based on constant growth that controls our social structures and destroys our basis for survival into a different socio-economic model. Furthermore, we need to discuss how this transition could be smooth and without escalation of social disagreements. Because of the gravity of these questions it is important that the answers are sought by all citizens of Slovenia, not only those who see economic interests in the development strategies of Slovenia.

How to realize it

The first step is to (re)define what development means for Slovene society. The second step is to form development objectives and indicators, which measure different components of development, not only economic development. The third step is to map and to connect all the transition movements that are already happening in Slovenia.

Namely, in the last years numerous initiatives appeared contributing to the improvement of well-being, yet trying to respect social and environmental limits: transition towns, local alternative currencies, centres for reuse, community gardening, social eateries, clothes swapping, car sharing and similar. These initiatives represent a sustainable contribution to the improved well-being of Slovenians, especially of the socially weaker ones, yet they are not sufficiently connected to form a real alternative for a social and economic transition. This is why closer links between these initiatives need to be established.

Lidija Živcic is currently a senior expert in Focus Association for Sustainable Development in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Her topics are sustainable development, climate, energy, transport, consumption, active citizenship and as of recently also degrowth. After completing her undergraduate studies of economics in Ljubljana in 2000, she completed a MSc course in Environmental Science and Policy at Central European University in Budapest. In 2012 Lidija earned a PhD degree at Biotechnical faculty, University of Ljubljana, with the dissertation on raising awareness on climate change in Slovenia. /// Ajda Pistotnik is currently freelance researcher. She also has working experience as a project manager and coordinator while working for NGO (Humanitas) and as an analyst at the Danish Institute for Human Rights. She completed her MSc in Political Science from the University of Ljubljana in 2012 on the topic of Human right to Water and Business. Moreover, she took part at the Erasmus exchange program at the Copenhagen University and attended the Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at the Washington College of Law in 2009. Ajda is Slovenian editor of the initiative TroikaWatch, she also contributed to Shadow Report on the economic, social and cultural rights in Slovenia, for the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 2014 and is an author to contribution to the annual report for Social Watch Report 2013: Means and Ends - Slovenia. Moreover, in 2014 she participated at EURODAD's conference on Alternative Solutions to the Debt Crisis and at Degrowth conferences (Leipzig and Venice). She presented her working paper at the conference Beyond Territoriality: Globalization and Transnational Human Rights Obligations in Antwerp in 2011.

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