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Another World Is Possible- And Necessary

On March 1st, 1972, the young scientists of the System Dynamics group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology presented their report, The Limits to Growth, to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, as commissioned by Club of Rome, an informal group of scientists, economists, teachers and managers founded in 1968 by Aurelio Peccei. For the first time, this report used a computer model of the world to analyze various future scenarios, using the world 2100 as a reference, taking into consideration five variables: population, food supply, pollution, industrial production and natural resources. Beyond the computer model, which was subject both praise and criticism, the report clearly demonstrated the impossibility of infinite material growth in the human economy as contained in a world of clear physical limits.botanical family

More than 40 years have passed since that day. Three updates have been published to the report, the most recent in 2012. In the meantime, the world population has grown from under four to over seven billion people. We ask ourselves how much food the planet is able to produce, how to distribute it and how not to waste it, while the number of malnourished people in the world is still as high as 792 million, according to FAO. Pollution is continuously increasing, and industrial agriculture (principally the raising of livestock) is one of the largest contributors to our greenhouse gas emissions. An undeclared war for resources is in full swing, which we may know better as land grabbing, a subtle war that robs rural communities of their means of self-sustenance: land, water, the ability to produce food.
Talking about limits to growth then, makes more sense than ever. That’s why one of the conferences at Terra Madre Salone del Gusto will focus on this theme, asking us to make a leap forward in our imaginations. The title, Another World Is Possible – And Necessary invites us to think about a new vision for the world economy; clearly, changing course is critical for the survival of humanity, as is abandoning the idea of infinite growth with finite resources, and idea still followed blindly by the markets, and nearly all governments.
Leading the talk will be three names from different backgrounds, who’ll discuss the steps we need to take collectively in order to rise to this enormous challenges.
Stefano Zamagni is an Italian economist at the University of Bologna. He often speaks about etymology, and tells us, for example, that the challenge is not to find equilibrium, but harmony. Equilibrium comes from the Latin aequilibrium and recalls the concept of two equal weights suspended in perfect balance, while harmony derives from Greek, and refers to an architectural component, a gap between two pieces of metal to avoid the creation of sparks between them, and therefore, fire. “The real challenge, the challenge of Terra Madre, is one of civility, and consists in bringing harmony into aspects of human development: growth, our relations, our spirituality.” It’s hard to imagine a world in which these elements of life have equal weight, and beyond, that what contributes to human happiness and well-being is given greater privilege in our priorities. “The challenge should start here with us in the richer countries, as we’ve done more to create the world’s problems, and as such, it’s up to us to transform our way of producing and consuming.”
Serge Latouche is a French philosopher and economist, who has been instrumental in the development of theories of “degrowth”. A frequent guest at Slow Food events, last autumn he galvanized an audience from the Slow Food Youth Network giving them a recipe for happiness. “If we want to be happy we have to know how to limit our desires. There is no connection between GDP and happiness, beyond a certain level wellbeing stops growing and what’s more, the costs related to growth outstrip the benefits.” But across the world, the exact opposite is happening, we produce more than we consume, with a devastating impact on the environment, we destroy the soil, poison the earth, generate enormous amounts of waste (including a large part of the food we product), pollute the air and consume an unsustainable part of our water resources. All this for growth which doesn’t increase wellbeing but inequality and unhappiness in our societies. The challenged, as Latouche imagines it, is to find the capacity to limit ourselves, to control our consumption of these finite resources.
Last but not least Eric Holt-Giménez, economist, agroecology and executive director of Food First, an organization that focus on hunger, food, poverty and social justice. In his books, including the excellent Food Rebellions!, he has demonstrated how a radical change in our production and consumption is key to our future. The industrial system of food production dominated by big corporations will not be able to face the future challenges, with all of the social and environmental damage it creates. The solution is an agriculture that sustains biodiversity, based on agroecology. An agriculture that must be sustained by commercial practices which keep the social and environmental healthy of both humanity and the planet in mind.
Growth, as the economists of today understand it, does not make sense any more.


Another World Is Possible – And Necessary

With Eric Holt-Giménez, Serge Latouche, Stefano Zamagni

September 26 from 14:00 to 15:30

Carignano Theater

Slow Food Members Price € 5

Full Price €7

An Event by
 Città di Torino
 Slow Food
 Regione Piemonte
In collaboration with
With the contribution of
Official Partners
Supporters of the Terra Madre Foundation and Slow Food
With the support of

Terra Madre Salone del Gusto
Slow Food Promozione P.Iva 02220020040
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