COVID 19: Selected Articles

Planning for Post-Corona:

Five proposals to craft a radically more sustainable and equal world


On Saturday 11 April a group of environment and development academics released a Manifesto for post-neoliberal development planning in the post-Covid-19 future.

By Giuseppe Feola

The Manifesto was published by the Dutch national newspaper Trouw and signed by 170 academics based at five Dutch universities, including myself and other members of Ontgroei: Crelis Rammelt (Assistant Professor Environmental Geography and International Development Studies), Federico Savini (Associate Professor in Environmental Planning, Institutions and Politics) and Julien-François Gerber (Assistant Professor of Environment and Development at the International Institute of Social Studies).

The Manifesto calls the Dutch Government to implement five key policy strategies for moving forward during and after the Covid-19 crisis:

  • a move away from ‘development’ focused on aggregate GDP growth;
  • an economic framework focused on redistribution;
  • transformation towards regenerative agriculture;
  • reduction of consumption and travel;
  • debt cancellation.

This Manifesto brings to the forefront some fundamental concerns of degrowth scholars and activists, and shows that these concerns are close to the hearts and minds of many academics who may not (yet) see themselves as part of the degrowth community. Particularly relevant is the link between economic development, the loss of biodiversity and important ecosystem functions, and the opportunity for diseases like COVID-19 to spread among humans. The Manifesto proposes policies that, as research tells us, are critical for a more sustainable, equal and diverse society – one that can better prevent and deal with shocks, including climate change related ones, and pandemics to come.

The Manifesto in Dutch can be downloaded here. An English version of the Manifesto is available here.

About the author: Giuseppe Feola is an Associate Professor of Social Change for Sustainability at the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development at Utrecht University (the Netherlands) and a member of the Dutch Degrowth Platform

Planning for Post-Corona:
Five proposals to craft a radically more sustainable and equal world

COVID-19 has shaken the world. It has already led to the loss or devastation of countless lives, while many people in vital professions are working day and night to attend to the sick and stop further spread. Personal and social losses, and the fight to stop these, demand our continued respect and support. At the same time, it is critical to view this pandemic in historical context in order to avoid repeating past mistakes when we plan for the future. The fact that COVID-19 has already had such a major economic impact is due, amongst other factors, to the economic development model that has been dominant globally over the last 30 years. This model demands ever-growing circulation of goods and people, despite the countless ecological problems and growing inequalities it generates.

Over the last few weeks, the weaknesses of the neoliberal growth machine have been painfully exposed. Amongst other issues we have seen: large companies pleading for immediate state support once effective demand falls away for even a short time; insecure jobs being lost or put on hold; and further strain placed on already underfunded healthcare systems. People who recently confronted the government in their struggles for recognition and decent salaries are now, remarkably, considered to have ‘vital professions’ in healthcare, elderly care, public transport and education. A further weakness of the current system, and one that is not yet prominent in discussions of the pandemic, is the link between economic development, the loss of biodiversity and important ecosystem functions, and the opportunity for diseases like COVID-19 to spread among humans.

These are lethal links and could become much more so. The WHO has already estimated that, globally, 4.2 million people die each year from outdoor air pollution, and that the impacts of climate change are expected to cause 250,000 additional deaths per year between 2030 and 2050. Experts warn that with further severe degradation of ecosystems – a scenario that is to be expected under the current economic model – chances for further and even stronger virus outbreaks on top of these unfolding catastrophes are realistic.

All this requires drastic and integrated action and makes it critical to start planning for a postCOVID-19 world as soon as possible. While some short-term positive social and environmental impacts have emerged in the crisis—such as community support, local organizing and solidarity, less pollution and GHG emissions—these changes will be temporary and marginalized without concerted efforts for broader political and economic change. It is therefore necessary to envision how this current situation could lead to a more sustainable, fair, equitable, healthy, and resilient form of (economic) development going forward. This brief manifesto signed by 174 Netherlands-based scholars aims to summarize what we know to be critical and successful policy strategies for moving forward during and after the crisis.

We propose five key policy proposals for a post-COVID-19 development model, all of which can be implemented immediately and sustained after this particular crisis has subsided:

1) a move away from development focused on aggregate GDP growth to differentiate among sectors that can grow and need investment (the so-called critical public sectors, and clean energy, education, health and more) and sectors that need to radically degrow due to their fundamental unsustainability or their role in driving continuous and excessive consumption (especially private sector oil, gas, mining, advertising, and so forth);

2) an economic framework focused on redistribution, which establishes a universal basic income rooted in a universal social policy system, a strong progressive taxation of income, profits and wealth, reduced working hours and job sharing, and recognizes care work and essential public services such as health and education for their intrinsic value;

3) agricultural transformation towards regenerative agriculture based on biodiversity conservation, sustainable and mostly local and vegetarian food production, as well as fair agricultural employment conditions and wages;

4) reduction of consumption and travel, with a drastic shift from luxury and wasteful consumption and travel to basic, necessary, sustainable and satisfying consumption and travel;

5) debt cancellation, especially for workers and small business owners and for countries in the global south (both from richer countries and international financial institutions).

As academics, we are convinced that this policy vision will lead to more sustainable, equal and diverse societies based on international solidarity, and ones that can better prevent and deal with shocks and pandemics to come. For us the question is no longer whether we need to start implementing these strategies, but how we go about it. As we acknowledge those groups hardest hit by this particular crisis in the Netherlands and beyond, we can do justice to them by being proactive in ensuring that a future crisis will be much less severe, cause much less suffering or not happen at all. Together with many other communities, in the Netherlands and globally, we believe the time is right for such a positive and meaningful vision going forward. We urge politicians, policy-makers and the general public to start organizing for their implementation sooner rather than later.

Signed: 1. Ana Aceska, Wageningen University 2. Murat Arsel, Erasmus University Rotterdam 3. Ellen Bal, Vrije University Amsterdam 4. Bosman Batubara, IHE, Delft University en University of Amsterdam 5. Maarten Bavinck, University of Amsterdam 6. Pascal Beckers, Radboud University 7. Kees Biekart, Erasmus University Rotterdam 8. Arpita Bisht, Erasmus University Rotterdam 9. Cebuan Bliss, Radboud University 10. Rutgerd Boelens, Wageningen University 11. Simone de Boer, Leiden University 12. Jun Borras, Erasmus University Rotterdam 13. Suzanne Brandon, Wageningen University 14. Arjen Buijs, Wageningen University 15. Bram Büscher, Wageningen University 16. Amrita Chhachhi, Erasmus University Rotterdam 17. Kristen Cheney, Erasmus University Rotterdam 18. Robert Coates, Wageningen University 19. Dimitris Dalakoglou, Vrije University Amsterdam 20. Jampel Dell’Angelo, Vrije University Amsterdam 21. Josephine Chambers, Wageningen University 22. Freek Colombijn, Vrije University Amsterdam 23. Tine Davids, Radboud University 24. Sierra Deutsch, Wageningen University 25. Madi Ditmars, Afrika Studiecentrum Leiden 26. Guus Dix, Leiden University 27. Martijn Duineveld, Wageningen University 28. Henk Eggens, Royal Tropical Institute 29. Thomas Eimer, Radboud University 30. Flávio Eiró, Radboud University 31. Willem Elbers, Radboud University 32. Jaap Evers, IHE Delft University 33. Giuseppe Feola, Utrecht University 34. Milja Fenger, Erasmus University Rotterdam 35. Andrew Fischer, Erasmus University Rotterdam 36. Robert Fletcher, Wageningen University 37. Judith Floor, Open University en Wageningen University 38. Des Gasper, Erasmus University Rotterdam 39. Lennie Geerlings, Leiden University 40. Julien-François Gerber, Erasmus University Rotterdam 41. Jan Bart Gewald, African Studies Centre Leiden 42. Sterre Gilsing, Utrecht University 43. Cristina Grasseni, Leiden University 44. Erella Grassiani, University of Amsterdam 45. Joyeeta Gupta, University of Amsterdam 46. Wendy Harcourt, Erasmus University Rotterdam 47. Janne Heederik, Radboud University 48. Ignas Heitköning, Wageningen University 49. Henk van den Heuvel, Vrije University Amsterdam 50. Silke Heumann, Erasmus University Rotterdam 51. Thea Hilhorst, Erasmus University Rotterdam 52. Helen Hintjens, Erasmus University Rotterdam 53. Geoffrey Hobbis, Groningen University 54. Stephanie Hobbis, Wageningen University 55. Barbara Hogenboom, University of Amsterdam 56. Michaela Hordijk, University of Amsterdam 57. Sabine van der Horst, Utrecht University 58. Henk van Houtum, Radboud University 59. Edward Huijbens, Wageningen University 60. Kees Jansen, Wageningen University 61. Freek Janssens, Leiden University 62. Rosalba Icaza, Erasmus University Rotterdam 63. Verina Ingram, Wageningen Economic Research en Wageningen University 64. Rivke Jaffe, University of Amsterdam 65. Shyamika Jayasundara-Smits, Erasmus University Rotterdam 66. Joop de Jong, Amsterdam UMC 67. Rik Jongenelen, African Studies Centre, Leiden 68. Joost Jongerden, Wageningen University 69. Emanuel de Kadt, Utrecht University 70. Coco Kanters, Leiden University. 71. Agnieszka Kazimierczuk, African Studies Centre Leiden 72. Jeltsje Kemerink-Seyoum, IHE Delft University 73. Thomas Kiggell, Wageningen University 74. Mathias Koepke, Utrecht University 75. Michiel Köhne, Wageningen University 76. Anouk de Koning, Leiden University 77. Kees Koonings, Utrecht University en University of Amsterdam 78. Stasja Koot, Wageningen University 79. Michelle Kooy, IHE Delft University 80. Martijn Koster, Radboud University 81. Rachel Kuran, Erasmus University Rotterdam 82. Arnoud Lagendijk, Radboud University 83. Corinne Lamain, Erasmus University 84. Irene Leonardelli, IHE Delft University 85. Maggi Leung, Utrecht University 86. Rik Leemans, Wageningen University 87. Yves van Leynseele, University of Amsterdam 88. Janwillem Liebrand, Utrecht University 89. Trista Chich-Chen Lin, Wageningen University 90. Andrew Littlejohn, Leiden University 91. Mieke Lopes-Cardozo, University of Amsterdam 92. Erik de Maaker, Leiden University 93. Žiga Malek, Vrije University Amsterdam 94. Ellen Mangnus, Wageningen University 95. Hans Marks, Radboud University 96. Jemma Middleton, Leiden University 97. Irene Moretti, Leiden University. 98. Esther Miedema, University of Amsterdam 99. Toon van Meijl, Radboud University 100. Miriam Meissner, Maastricht University 101. Adam Moore, Radboud University 102. Tsegaye Moreda, Erasmus University Rotterdam 103. Oona Morrow, Wageningen University 104. Farhad Mukhtarov, Erasmus University 105. Nikki Mulder, Leiden University 106. Mansoob Murshed, Erasmus University Rotterdam 107. Paul Mutsaers, Radboud University 108. Femke van Noorloos, Utrecht University 109. Martijn Oosterbaan, Utrecht University 110. Meghann Ormond, Wageningen University 111. Annet Pauwelussen, Wageningen University 112. Peter Pels, Leiden University 113. Lee Pegler, Erasmus University Rotterdam 114. Lorenzo Pellegrini, Erasmus University Rotterdam 115. Yvon van der Pijl, University Utrecht 116. Liedeke Plate, Radboud University 117. Fernande Pool, Erasmus University Rotterdam 118. Metje Postma, Leiden University 119. Nicky Pouw, University of Amsterdam 120. Crelis Rammelt, University of Amsterdam 121. Elisabet Rasch, Wageningen University 122. Marina de Regt, Vrije University Amsterdam 123. Ria Reis, Leiden University Medical Center 124. Andro Rilović, Erasmus University Rotterdam 125. Tobias Rinke de Wit (University of Amsterdam 126. Claudia Rodríguez Orrego, Erasmus University Rotterdam 127. Eva van Roekel, Vrije University Amsterdam 128. Mirjam Ros-Tonen, University of Amsterdam 129. Martin Ruivenkamp, Wageningen University 130. Ary A. Samsura, Planologie, Radboud University 131. Annemarie Samuels, Leiden University 132. Ton Salman, Vrije University Amsterdam 133. Younes Saramifar, Vrije University Amsterdam 134. Federico Savini, University of Amsterdam 135. Joeri Scholtens, University of Amsterdam 136. Mindi Schneider, Wageningen University 137. Lau Schulpen, Radboud University 138. Peter Schumacher, Utrecht University 139. Amod Shah, Erasmus University Rotterdam 140. Murtah Shannon, Utrecht University 141. Karin Astrid Siegmann, Erasmus University Rotterdam 142. Sven da Silva, Radboud University 143. Giulia Sinatti, Vrije University Amsterdam 144. Lothar Smit, Radboud University 145. Marja Spierenburg, Leiden University 146. Rachel Spronk, University of Amsterdam 147. Antonia Stanojevic, Radboud University 148. Nora Stel, Radboud University 149. Marjo de Theije, Vrije University Amsterdam 150. Louis Thiemann, Erasmus University Rotterdam 151. Lisa Trogisch, Wageningen University 152. Wendelien Tuyp, Vrije University Amsterdam 153. Esther Veen, Wageningen University 154. Lieke van der Veer, Radboud University 155. Courtney Vegelin, University of Amsterdam 156. Hemalatha Venkataraman, Radboud University 157. Willemijn Verkoren, Radboud University 158. Gerard Verschoor, Wageningen University 159. Hebe Verrest, University of Amsterdam 160. Bas Verschuuren, Wageningen University 161. Mark Vicol, Wageningen University 162. Oanne Visser, Erasmus University Rotterdam 163. Anick Vollebergh, Radboud University 164. Roanne van Voorst, Erasmus University Rotterdam 165. Pieter de Vries, Wageningen University 166. Vincent Walstra, Leiden University. 167. Saskia Werners, Wageningen University 168. Maaike Westra, African Studies Centre Leiden 169. Mark Westmoreland, Leiden University 170. Nikkie Wiegink, Utrecht University 171. Saskia Wieringa, University of Amsterdam 172. Angela Wigger, Radboud University 173. Han Wiskerke, Wageningen University 174. Margreet Zwarteveen, University of Amsterdam And the Dutch Footprint Group

Coronavirus and the “survival of the fittest” in the Netherlands

As of April 11, the Netherlands is suffering the fifth highest per capita Covid-19 death rate in the world, reporting 24,413 confirmed coronavirus infections and 2,643 Covid-19 deaths in a county of just 17 million. Center-right Prime Minister Mark Rutte was slow to respond to the crisis domestically and has pushed harsh loan conditions for emergency financial measures to aid other member states in the European Union. In this interview, Pepijn Brandon explains how decades of neoliberalism established the political and economic conditions that have made the Netherlands so vulnerable to the coronavirus and how a “survival of the fittest” mentality continues to endanger public health. Pepijn Brandon is a Dutch social and economic historian specialized in the history of capitalism. He is the author of War, Capital, and the Dutch State (1588-1795). He is currently in the U.S. as Harvard University’s Erasmus Lecturer on the History and Civilization of the Netherlands and Flanders. This interview is part of No Borders News ongoing international coronavirus coverage.Read more HERE


Arundhati Roy: ‘The pandemic is a portal’

Who can use the term “gone viral” now without shuddering a little? Who can look at anything any more — a door handle, a cardboard carton, a bag of vegetables — without imagining it swarming with those unseeable, undead, unliving blobs dotted with suction pads waiting to fasten themselves on to our lungs?  Who can think of kissing a stranger, jumping on to a bus or sending their child to school without feeling real fear? Who can think of ordinary pleasure and not assess its risk? Who among us is not a quack epidemiologist, virologist, statistician and prophet? Which scientist or doctor is not secretly praying for a miracle? Which priest is not — secretly, at least — submitting to science?  And even while the virus proliferates, who could not be thrilled by the swell of birdsong in cities, peacocks dancing at traffic crossings and the silence in the skies?

For more read HERE.