Improving understanding on degrowth pathways: An exploratory study using collaborative causal models

Nuno Videira, François Schneider, Filka Sekulova, Giorgos Kallis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


Degrowth has been put forward as a transition pathway towards a socially and ecologically sustainable future. Many diverse actions have been proposed in the context of degrowth. To the outsider the debate might seem somewhat unfocussed. This article reveals the links and complementarities between emblematic degrowth proposals, and provides a toolkit for developing a more coherent picture on how overdeveloped societies may make a transition to more frugal and convivial futures. We use the method of Causal Loop Diagramming in a collaborative setting involving researchers and activists engaged with degrowth issues. First we derive collaboratively the dominant feedback processes in the current social, ecological and economic systems and we identify leverage points for systemic interventions to facilitate degrowth. By explicitly representing the main causal chains of effects it is possible to reveal insights on the consequences of a given proposal and explore "what-if?" questions and future pathways. In addition we construct a compatibility matrix to identify the possible synergies between emblematic degrowth proposals. The results from these two exercises are integrated to provide plausible pathways for the implementation of degrowth policies, with a systemic identification of risks, uncertainties and leverage points of intervention. Participatory systems thinking tools have much to offer in envisioning contractional, macro-pathways towards sustainability. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-77
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Causal loop diagrams
  • Degrowth
  • Participatory modelling
  • Pathways
  • Systems thinking


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