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 post- COVID-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.


  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
  1. Martijn Duineveld, Wageningen University
  2. Henk Eggens, Royal Tropical Institute
  3. Thomas Eimer, Radboud University
  4. Flávio Eiró, Radboud University
  5. Willem Elbers, Radboud University
  6. Jaap Evers, IHE Delft University
  7. Giuseppe Feola, Utrecht University
  8. Milja Fenger, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  9. Andrew Fischer, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  10. Robert Fletcher, Wageningen University
  11. Judith Floor, Open University en Wageningen University
  12. Des Gasper, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  13. Lennie Geerlings, Leiden University
  14. Julien-François Gerber, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  15. Jan Bart Gewald, African Studies Centre Leiden
  16. Sterre Gilsing, Utrecht University
  17. Cristina Grasseni, Leiden University
  18. Erella Grassiani, University of Amsterdam
  19. Joyeeta Gupta, University of Amsterdam
  20. Wendy Harcourt, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  21. Janne Heederik, Radboud University
  22. Ignas Heitköning, Wageningen University
  23. Henk van den Heuvel, Vrije University Amsterdam
  24. Silke Heumann, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  25. Thea Hilhorst, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  26. Helen Hintjens, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  27. Geoffrey Hobbis, Groningen University
  28. Stephanie Hobbis, Wageningen University
  29. Barbara Hogenboom, University of Amsterdam
  30. Michaela Hordijk, University of Amsterdam
  31. Sabine van der Horst, Utrecht University
  32. Henk van Houtum, Radboud University
  33. Edward Huijbens, Wageningen University
  34. Kees Jansen, Wageningen University
  35. Freek Janssens, Leiden University
  36. Rosalba Icaza, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  37. Verina Ingram, Wageningen Economic Research en Wageningen University
  38. Rivke Jaffe, University of Amsterdam
  39. Shyamika Jayasundara-Smits, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  40. Joop de Jong, Amsterdam UMC
  41. Rik Jongenelen, African Studies Centre, Leiden
  42. Joost Jongerden, Wageningen University
  43. Emanuel de Kadt, Utrecht University
  44. Coco Kanters, Leiden University.
  45. Agnieszka Kazimierczuk, African Studies Centre Leiden
  46. Jeltsje Kemerink-Seyoum, IHE Delft University
  47. Thomas Kiggell, Wageningen University
  48. Mathias Koepke, Utrecht University
  49. Michiel Köhne, Wageningen University
  50. Anouk de Koning, Leiden University
  1. Kees Koonings, Utrecht University en University of Amsterdam
  2. Stasja Koot, Wageningen University
  3. Michelle Kooy, IHE Delft University
  4. Martijn Koster, Radboud University
  5. Rachel Kuran, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  6. Arnoud Lagendijk, Radboud University
  7. Corinne Lamain, Erasmus University
  8. Irene Leonardelli, IHE Delft University
  9. Maggi Leung, Utrecht University
  10. Rik Leemans, Wageningen University
  11. Yves van Leynseele, University of Amsterdam
  12. Janwillem Liebrand, Utrecht University
  13. Trista Chich-Chen Lin, Wageningen University
  14. Andrew Littlejohn, Leiden University
  15. Mieke Lopes-Cardozo, University of Amsterdam
  16. Erik de Maaker, Leiden University
  17. Žiga Malek, Vrije University Amsterdam
  18. Ellen Mangnus, Wageningen University
  19. Hans Marks, Radboud University
  20. Jemma Middleton, Leiden University
  21. Irene Moretti, Leiden University.
  22. Esther Miedema, University of Amsterdam
  23. Toon van Meijl, Radboud University
  24. Miriam Meissner, Maastricht University
  25. Adam Moore, Radboud University
  26. Tsegaye Moreda, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  27. OonaMorrow,WageningenUniversity
  28. Farhad Mukhtarov, Erasmus University
  29. Nikki Mulder, Leiden University
  30. Mansoob Murshed, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  31. Paul Mutsaers, Radboud University
  32. Femke van Noorloos, Utrecht University
  33. Martijn Oosterbaan, Utrecht University
  34. Meghann Ormond, Wageningen University
  35. Annet Pauwelussen, Wageningen University
  36. Peter Pels, Leiden University
  37. Lee Pegler, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  38. Lorenzo Pellegrini, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  39. Yvon van der Pijl, University Utrecht
  40. Liedeke Plate, Radboud University
  41. Fernande Pool, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  42. Metje Postma, Leiden University
  43. Nicky Pouw, University of Amsterdam
  44. Crelis Rammelt, University of Amsterdam
  45. Elisabet Rasch, Wageningen University
  46. Marina de Regt, Vrije University Amsterdam
  47. Ria Reis, Leiden University Medical Center
  48. Andro Rilović, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  49. Tobias Rinke de Wit (University of Amsterdam
  50. Claudia Rodríguez Orrego, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  1. Eva van Roekel, Vrije University Amsterdam
  2. Mirjam Ros-Tonen, University of Amsterdam
  3. Martin Ruivenkamp, Wageningen University
  4. Ary A. Samsura, Planologie, Radboud University
  5. Annemarie Samuels, Leiden University
  6. Ton Salman, Vrije University Amsterdam
  7. Younes Saramifar, Vrije University Amsterdam
  8. Federico Savini, University of Amsterdam
  9. Joeri Scholtens, University of Amsterdam
  10. Mindi Schneider, Wageningen University
  11. Lau Schulpen, Radboud University
  12. Peter Schumacher, Utrecht University
  13. Amod Shah, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  14. Murtah Shannon, Utrecht University
  15. Karin Astrid Siegmann, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  16. Sven da Silva, Radboud University
  17. Giulia Sinatti, Vrije University Amsterdam
  18. Lothar Smit, Radboud University
  19. Marja Spierenburg, Leiden University
  20. Rachel Spronk, University of Amsterdam
  21. Antonia Stanojevic, Radboud University
  22. Nora Stel, Radboud University
  23. Marjo de Theije, Vrije University Amsterdam
  24. Louis Thiemann, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  25. Lisa Trogisch, Wageningen University
  26. Wendelien Tuyp, Vrije University Amsterdam
  27. EstherVeen,WageningenUniversity
  28. Lieke van der Veer, Radboud University
  29. Courtney Vegelin, University of Amsterdam
  30. Hemalatha Venkataraman, Radboud University
  31. Willemijn Verkoren, Radboud University
  32. Gerard Verschoor, Wageningen University
  33. Hebe V errest, University of Amsterdam
  34. Bas Verschuuren, Wageningen University
  35. Mark Vicol, Wageningen University
  36. OanneVisser,ErasmusUniversityRotterdam
  37. Anick Vollebergh, Radboud University
  38. Roanne van Voorst, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  39. Pieter de Vries, Wageningen University
  40. Vincent Walstra, Leiden University.
  41. Saskia Werners, Wageningen University
  42. Maaike Westra, African Studies Centre Leiden
  43. Mark Westmoreland, Leiden University
  44. Nikkie Wiegink, Utrecht University
  45. Saskia Wieringa, University of Amsterdam
  46. Angela Wigger, Radboud University
  47. Han Wiskerke, Wageningen University
  48. Margreet Zwarteveen, University of Amsterdam

And the Dutch Footprint Group (

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