By: Ankita Kulkarni
June 23 2023
Degrowth promotes less use of resources and energy, and puts an individual’s well-being ahead of profit. It does not promote depopulation.
A post on social media claims that the World Economic Forum (WEF) aims to depopulate the world by implementing "degrowth" to fight against the climate change crisis. It includes a screenshot, an article headline published by the WEF, and a video of Belgian climate activist Anuna De Wever Van Der Heyden, who can be seen talking about the 'degrowth' theory. The post caption reads, "The World Economic Forum has a plan for 'degrowth.' Another term for it is 'sustainable development.' They are both euphemisms for depopulation. It's Agenda 2030. You are the carbon footprint they want to erase." The post has garnered 14,300 views and has been widely shared across Facebook.
However, it misrepresents the theory and incorrectly links it to conspiracy theories.
According to the WEF, degrowth is an economic theory aimed at reducing the global consumption and production of energy and resources. It advocates for prioritizing one's well-being ahead of profit. The practical actions for implementing degrowth policies might include growing food or occupying empty houses instead of building new ones. There is no mention of depopulating the world through this theory.
The WEF explains that the theory was coined in 1972 by Austrian-French social philosopher André Gorz. The approach started gaining traction as awareness about climate change accelerated. Supporters of the theory note that since economic growth started during the 17th and 18th centuries, governments have been focused on growing and expanding. If this continues, it will lead to climate catastrophe. "Degrowthers" also argue that they would like to see the end of Gross Domestic Production (GDP) as a measure of economic progress. Simultaneously, they also clarify that degrowth is not about reducing GDP but reducing the use of energy and resources.
Although arguments are going on among experts regarding their approaches toward climate change, none of them are promoting the depopulation of the world. Additionally, a study published in Nature in December 2022 explains the degrowth theory and mentions nothing about reducing the population.
The video of Anuna De Wever Van Der Heyden included in the viral post promotes the degrowth theory, stating that "there is no degrowth without decolonization." The video is from the Beyond Growth 2023 Conference and can also be found on her official Twitter account, dated May 19, 2023.
The WEF has only published one article presenting both sides of the theory and is not forcefully implementing it. The WEF regularly publishes such articles on approaches towards climate change and has never advocated for depopulating as a means.
Yann Zopf, the media head of WEF, told Logically Facts, "The World Economic Forum never made any statement about depopulating the world. These are false claims to discredit the important work that the World Economic Forum does on serious global challenges."
Furthermore, the depopulation agenda attributed to the WEF is a common part of the New World Order conspiracy theory, which falsely claims that elites and organizations like the alleged WEF plan to decrease the population and arrest and enslave people to enforce a totalitarian dystopia.
The WEF has never advocated decreasing the world's population to deal with the climate crisis through the degrowth theory. The degrowth economic theory promotes individual well-being ahead of profit. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.