Version 3.2_September 2016

Individual Paper: The experience of the Italian Network for Sustainability and Health

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Ivan Illich argued that a revolution in the health field is crucial and “integral to a society-wide criticism and restraint of the industrial mode of production”. Recently, in order to develop this stream of thought, several authors have tried to re-think health in the conceptual frame of degrowth and, in parallel, practical initiatives and networks have been developed.
In this presentation, we will discuss the case study of the Italian Network for Sustainability and Health (INSH).
In 2013, the ‘Movimento per la Decrescita Felice’ organized a national conference with active participation of the most important Italian associations working in the field of health, degrowth and sustainability. This process led to the creation of the Italian Network for Health and Sustainability, composed actually of 22 associations, which signed the ‘Bologna Manifesto for Sustainability and Health’(BMSH). The Manifesto is the result of a participative process where associations agreed on a set of key issues related to degrowth and health. They declared that ‘the present prevailing paradigm based on unlimited growth [...] is unable to safeguard the health of present and future generations’ and called for ‘an alternative model, not only aimed at growth’. However, they choose to not explicitly use the term degrowth.
In the presentation we illustrate the BMSH and the process that lead to its adoption. We furthermore describe the structure, the work done and the objective of the INSH, arguing that such a project of intellectual and activism cooperation between health and degrowth communities would be mutually beneficial and crucial in the next future.