International Handbook on Social Policy and the Environment
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International Handbook on Social Policy and the Environment

Edited by Tony Fitzpatrick

Environmental change is central to the global social policy challenges of the twenty-first century. This comprehensive Handbook brings together leading experts from around the world to address the most important questions and issues we face. How should welfare states adapt to environmental change? To what extent are the ecological and social policy agendas compatible? Must we contemplate radical reforms to the principles and organisation of welfare services? Combining cutting-edge theory and data in an interdisciplinary approach, this Handbook both summarises existing developments and suggests how debates and research must develop in the future.
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Chapter 9: Degrowth for sustainability, equality and poverty reduction: some lessons from Cuba

Karen Bell


Increased economic growth has been widely and consistently advocated as a solution to poverty and inequality. Yet many environmentalists are opposed to limitless growth on the grounds that it is ecologically unsustainable. In particular, the 'degrowth' movement that has recently emerged in Northern Europe has challenged the paradigm of growth, promoting instead an alternative agenda of reducing production and consumption in order to attain sustainability and social justice. Yet, ironically, the rise of the degrowth movement has coincided with a severe economic recession in the wealthier countries and the result of this does, indeed, seem to have increased hardship and inequity as businesses collapse and jobs are lost (e.g., see JRF 2012). This situation forces us to consider whether degrowth is feasible in a market economy, which appears to depend on growth; and if not, what this tells us about the macro-policies necessary to become an equal, just and, at the same time, ecological society.

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