Reflections post “Degrowth Conference”

Coming back to India, a week after the Degrowth Conference in Budapest, I start thinking that everything happens for a reason, and all troubles met on the way have a meaning and a consequence in our small life.

 It has been one year that my life has basically changed, or at least in my dipper soul, when I realized how much certain topics do matter for me. The circumstance of organizing last year a small event about India in my country, gave me the opportunity to fully immerse myself in a topic I though was important to tell loudly. Without knowing much about the subject I started to dip into matters, events and campaigns I was since that time not fully aware of. In the plane from Delhi to Rome with two amazing activists, Roma and Ulka, I felt I was witness of my own change; their talks were absolute inspiring for me, and while I was going to introduce the topic to the Italian audience, I was myself learning on the way, on a topic with the given title: “Displacement and Land Grabbing in India”.

My years working for dalit and indigenous rights, gave me the possibility to just touch some of the key topics I knew were of much interest for me, but on which I could never deeply elaborate since that moment. I left my job, before one, than another. I was interested in working for land and environmental rights; I wanted to experience the world of activism from an India perspective, and I felt I was in the right place and in the right moment.

 Now, sitting down on a bench in my balcony, in the most polluted city of the world, New Delhi, I reflect on these 4 days at the Degrowth Conference, and I gently smile recalling the talks, the emotions and the people met on those short but intense timings. It is not just because of the key talks that enlightening me, but the atmosphere, the difference with whatever other conference I have attended before, and maybe the genuine passion behind every personality.

 What I learned is that Degrowth is first of all about humanity.

 In a world driven by competition and struggle, rapidity and technology, there is hardly any time to think about cooperation, sharing and distribution, which on my vision are the key words of the Degrowth movement. In fact Degrowth is not only a concept but a movement of people who have come together as a response of an emergency, which is political, economical and environmental. It is a provocation against a system we already know is not working, but incapable of admitting it. It is a slogan, against the human consumption; a movement, which is inviting people and authorities to start being more responsible, consume less to save our environment and our life.

 The impact of climate change, which every day knocks on our doors with water floods, earthquakes, and other natural disasters, which are increasing on a day-to-day base, are some evident factors we all should start reflecting on. In these days, the message that at least passed on me while on the big halls of the historical university of Budapest, is that growth is not anymore bearable, a real change is needed sooner or after, and degrowth represents one of the few alternatives to live longer and better in respect of the others and the nature. But to do so we need to take action now as a community. International Conferences as the CO21 in Paris are of obviously importance, but we cannot wait for our national leaders to lead the change, we need to work as a community to start being responsible on our ecological impacts, and recognize the importance and the danger of our footprint into the environment.

Having lived many years in the city I can recall each of any times I left the urban to live the rural. The distance created by this capitalist society between man and nature is the cause of the deep crises of this unsatisfied and unhappy society.

These ideas became clearer in the last months while working on forest rights in India and exploring the socio-environmental impacts of this capitalist growth on the indigenous people, who are the one paying the highest price of this economical system. The direct experience with dispossessed communities made me aware of what does truly mean to be deprived by the resources we should naturally manage. Coming from a small village myself, I could feel lost without my land, my sea, and my roots. Although far away, I would feel totally denied from my identity in that precise moment my land would be touched. Then yes, I am sure I will also become an environmental activist, because here in India, as in many others– unfortunately- part of the world, this is not a choice, this is a struggle for survival.

But the struggle is not only here; all around the world, thousands of communities are organizing themselves and finding new solutions to produce their needs, against the hegemonic power of the market. Alternative ways of living and numerous bottom-up approaches have being experienced from North to South, from East to West as urban gardener, cooperatives and sustainable farming. It is now on our power to choose how to shape this amazing world that is hosting us. A sustainable way of life is not only possible but now necessary and probably the only real solution.

I look to the sky, today as well is grey, and I miss my land, I miss the clouds, the blue, the stars… but today I have a choice to come back home and seeing again those colours… but what about the people over here? And even more, what about if everywhere will be in the near future like Delhi? What about if my sky tomorrow won’t be visible anymore?

The problem is not there, is not far away; it is here among and within each of us.

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