What are the merits of economic contraction, is degrowth the way forward? The pros and cons of economic growth

At 19:30 on Tuesday the 19th April, deBuren held a debate which looked at the primacy of economic growth and it and degrowth’s relative merits.

This debate has now finished, but a full Dutch-language recording can be found here and English-language video highlights are available on this page.

Theme / Speakers / Articles / Full recording (Dutch) / Video highlights 

About the debate:

In the last few years, the financial crisis and climate change have led more and more people to question the primacy of economic growth. Proponents of degrowth advocate a totally different sort of economics and a complete change of mentality. They seek an end to the prioritisation of economic growth, state that we need to produce and consume less and that that which we do produce should be sold as close to source as is possible. For the proponents of degrowth, it’s time to see an end to the environmental excesses of our consumerist society.

Of course, degrowth is controversial and the movement has come in for criticism. This debate looked to analyse that critique, asking questions such as:

– are economic growth and environmental conservation really incompatible?

– how realistic is the degrowth scenario and what would the economic policy required for its implementation look like in, for example, Belgium and the Netherlands?

– and, would the continued existence of a European Union be conceivable, were that union to be comprised of member states which had renounced the primacy of economic growth?

Brent Bleys started off the evening with an introduction to the key principles of the degrowth movement, before he, Marius de Geus and Geert Gielens looked in more detail at the practicality of the proposals on which degrowth is based.

This debate has now finished, but a full Dutch language recording can be found here and English-language video highlights are available at the top of this page.


Brent Bleys – Economics Lecturer at the University of Gent, Belgium

Marius de Geus – Political Philosophy Lecturer at the University of Leiden, the Netherlands

Geert Gielens – Chief Economist and Research Director at Belfius Bank


Piet Depuydt –  Finance and Economics Editor of De Tijd

Event series:

This debate took place with the support of the European Union’s Europe for Citizens Programme and was one debate of many taking place as part of an international series of debates on the same theme in cities around Europe, including Barcelona, Bratislava, Brussels, London, Sofia and Warsaw.


Krimp is goed? ‘Degrowth’ als toekomstmodel. Zin en onzin van economische groei

Tegen 19:30 MET dinsdags 19.04.16, in Leopoldstraat 6, Brussel. Discussie in het Nederlands.

Thema / SprekersArtikels / Volledige opname / Video highlights

Over de discussie:

Door de financiële crisis en klimaatverandering staat economische groei de afgelopen jaren steeds meer ter discussie. Voorstanders van degrowth pleiten voor een geheel ander soort economie en een totale mentaliteitsverandering: weg met het primaat van de groei, we moeten minder produceren en consumeren en dat alles zo dicht mogelijk bij huis. Gedaan met de overbelasting van het milieu om aan onze consumptiedrang te kunnen voldoen.

Uiteraard is degrowth controversieel en de beweging krijgt dan ook de nodige kritiek te verduren. Is economische groei inderdaad onverenigbaar met milieubescherming? Hoe realistisch is het degrowth-scenario en op welke manier kan dit vertaald worden in een economisch beleid in pakweg België of Nederland? Is het voortbestaan van de Europese Unie denkbaar als een of meerdere lidstaten economische groei afzweren?

Na een korte toelichting op de voornaamste principes van degrowth door Brent Bleys schuifen zich Marius de Geus en Geert Gielens aan voor het debat.


Brent Bleys docent Algemene Economie aan de Universiteit van Gent

Marius de Geus docent aan de vakgroep Politieke filosofie van de Universiteit Leiden

Geert Gielens – hoofdeconoom van Belfius Bank en directeur van de onderzoeksafdeling


Piet Depuydt – financieel-economisch redacteur bij De Tijd


deBuren In samenwerking met Time to Talk en met steun van het Europe for Citizens programma van de Europese Unie.

EFC logo Dutch long

Location / Locatie:

Articles / Artikels:

The Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare for Belgium, 1970–2006 by Brent Bleys 

GDP alternatives and their correlations by Anita Borzán, Szilveszter Farkas, Cecilia Szigeti and Gergely Tóth 

Classifying alternative measures for policy-making by Brent Bleys 

Democracy and Green Political Thought. Sustainability, Rights and Citizenship edited by Brian Doherty and Marius de Geus 

Evaluating living standard indicators by Veronika Antošová, Nada Birčiaková and Jana Stávková

Green consumption or sustainable lifestyles? Identifying the sustainable consumer by Stewart Barr, Nicholas Ford and Andrew Gilg

Une démocratie post-représentative et post-gouvernementale pour une société post-croissance ? Comparaison et confrontation de répertoires de propositions by Yannick Rumpala

Extractivism above all? Global economics, local resistance by Evie Papada 

Radical urban political-ecological imaginaries. Planetary urbanisation and politicising nature by Maria Kaika and Erik Swyngedouw 

Against growth Almantas Samalavicius in conversation with Joshua Farley 

The pursuit of happiness Almantas Samalavicius in conversation with Mark Anielski