What is the challenge?
Our consumption is harming the climate and environment, unsustainably and evidently without making us much happier. What Swedes consume is largely imported, and imposes costs outside the country’s borders. The UN Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) include ‘Responsible Consumption and Production’ among the 17, and this requires member nations to find practical solutions conducive to a shift. Mistra Sustainable Consumption is Mistra’s answer to this challenge, and the programme tackles vital components of our consumption: food, holidays and interior decoration.
‘The aim of “Responsible Consumption and Production” by the year 2030 is among the most challenging of the global Sustainable Development Goals, not least for Sweden with our high, largely import-based consumption. But our composition, with researchers and a variety of stakeholders, is well judged for the purpose of devising practical means to this end. Their solutions will help to bring about a sharing economy, resource efficiency, use of recycled and recovered materials — and sustainable business models that pave the way for business and entrepreneurship.’
Annika Helker Lundström, Chair of the programme board
How can the programme help to bring about a solution?
Essentially, it will give us more knowledge about what sustainable consumption is and how to plan for a systematic shift towards it. We must find the right policy instruments to enable the general public to more easily make more sustainable everyday choices. In addition, the changes must not cause our quality of life to decline.
The research aims include finding out about existing habits, lifestyles and business models in society that contribute to sustainability; testing them; and seeing whether more people can be induced to adopt them. Today, solutions may be found partly in niche practices in which only a few are engaged. The work consists partly in upscaling these minority groups’ values and activities, and extending them to broader strata in society.
The programme focuses on solutions more than on the problem. The intention is to develop proposals for a switch to sustainable consumption. Consequently, roadmaps are to be drawn up to show how the switch can take place. This planning work will take place jointly with other stakeholders in society, with the objective of making them more flexible and capable of adapting to reality.
Who will benefit from the results?
The plan is for the research findings to be useful for decision-makers at local, regional and national level in Sweden. The business sector, civil society and ultimately consumers, too, will benefit from what emerges from the research. Moreover, the partners in the programme will gain direct knowledge from the results, which will boost their competitiveness.
The importance of research for a green recovery and sustainable transformation – Interviews with Mistra Programme Directors spring 2020.
Åsa Svenfelt, Programme Director Mistra Sustainable Consumption.