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International Degrowth Conference

Tamas Veress participated in the 9th International Degrowth Conference in August 29-September 2, 2023 in Zagreb, Croatia.

In his presentation on “Principles and Models of Community-based Organisations in the Anthropocene” Tamas Veress shared the results of qualitative multi-case study research, where 20 community-based organisations (CBOs) were analysed regarding their approach towards meeting basic needs in the diverse fields of everyday reality, such as housing, healthcare, technological innovation, food, currency, and mobility.

The main research question was: what practices and enabling conditions are present in the sampled organizations that direct collective action toward societal well-being and ecological restoration rather than towards contributing to economic growth (and/or individual wealth accumulation)? Primary data was gathered through semi-structured interviews, while secondary data was collected through publicly available sources.

Results indicate the central importance of autonomy; on both individual and organisational levels. Global supply chains often successfully hide their destructive features from consumers, and at the same time consumers, nor workers have the power to (at least without organized collective action) significantly influence what and how is produced; unsustainable options prevail largely because those with power are unwilling to change. The sampled organisations are community-based in the sense that they are open to a wide range of stakeholders to have a genuine ability to influence the given organisation. CBOs this way are vehicles to collect information on local issues, and spaces to organise around those issues for positive social change. This ability to influence daily livelihood issues meaningfully provides individual and organisational level autonomy. CBO models present a set of organisational models where the focus is on needs and not on growth.