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[Event] Lunch debate cycle with Francesco Sarracino

Caritas Luxembourg is organising a 4 lecture lunch debate cycle with Francesco Sarracino in the Big Bang room at House of Startups. Come enjoy some vegan food whilst learning about an alternative future for our society and our economic model.



Climate change is creating an range of problems for jeopardizing our planet's biodiversity and causing social injustices. These challenges are proof that our economic model based on linearity and economic growth can no longer work. There is a pressing need for alternative systems as society becomes increasingly aware of the climate emergency. Evidence shows that we can grow our GDP whilst moving towards a human economy, more focused on people’s well-being and more respectful of our planet.


It is in this context that the ‘Plaidons Reponsable’ team by Caritas Luxembourg is organising a cycle of 4 lunch-debates with Francesco Sarracino. Francesco is an economist and expert on well-being and quality of life. He will present a model of society in which the people and social relations are at the centre of the system, where environmental protection and sustainable development are in harmony with the well-being of society. In addition to this alternative model of society the topics of consumption, well-being and social progress will be addressed.

We invite and encourage everyone, regardless of their profile and background, to attend these discussions which concern us all. We especially urge policy makers and business leaders to attend as we ought to convince them to reconsider their objectives and to consider a different way of making decisions. The audience will also have the opportunity to take the floor to ask questions or express their opinion on Francesco's ideas in a debate that will follow the presentation. All this will be done over a selection of vegan sandwiches offered by Caritas.

Please find a teaser of each of the lunch-debates below.


1. Happier and sustainable. Possibilities for a post-growth society


Sustainability is possible and does not have to cost the well-being of current generations.

Social and environmental degradation are consequences of emphasizing GDP as a measure of progress. By empowering people to pursue their own well-being, we can benefit the environment, enable collective action to address public issues, and this in turn positively affects productivity and health, thereby instilling a virtuous cycle for a peaceful and respectful coexistence with other species on Earth. Promoting cooperation and social relations is the starting point of a new definition of social progress, one in which people’s ability to enjoy life is decoupled from what they have.


2. Consumption and well-being


Consumption has a leading role in people’s lives. Its decrease is as important for sustainability as it is unpopular. In this seminar, we will discuss the role of money for well-being, and some of the drivers of consumption. We will also discuss why unhappiness, poor health, loneliness, stress, long working hours have become the characteristic features of modern, affluent societies. Various examples and evidence from empirical studies will illustrate defensive growth mechanisms in developed and developing countries. Understanding the causes of modern consumption and its relation with our well-being is the first step towards socially and environmentally sustainable societies.


3. An alternative explanation of unsustainability


People’s greed and lack of care for future generations are usually seen as the origin of unsustainability and of the environmental tragedies of our time. Defensive growth theory provides an alternative explanation to unsustainability: the more people care for the environment and for future generations, the more they can adopt behaviors that harm the environment. This paradoxical outcome is possible when collective action is impossible: the less people believe that others and the institutions can be trusted to do their part in a collective effort, the more they will turn to private solutions that ultimately harm the environment. This suggests that promoting trust and social relations facilitates the uptaking of environmentally friendly behaviors and complying with public policies.


4. A virtuous cycle


Neo-humanism offers a new narrative for social progress, and a cohesive reform of modern societies. Neo-humanism is a movement informed by quality of life studies to put humankind and the environment at the center of societies’ attention. It re-discovers the foundations of what makes a life worth living and proposes to organize modern societies accordingly. The basic idea is that it is possible to establish a virtuous cycle whereby promoting social relations is the first step to promote well-being, protect the environment, and promote productivity in a self-reinforcing loop. Economic growth will become a desirable, but not necessary consequence of humans’ activity, while people’s ability to enjoy life will be independent from the resources they own.


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