Sustainable consumption

Funding call for research programme

This post is also available in Swedish

Revised 27 Sept 2016

The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research (Mistra) invites research groups, jointly with other stakeholders, to submit proposals for a new research programme on scope for reducing the environmental impact of consumption. The research is intended to foster efficient use of resources and low emissions, and contribute to solutions rather than describing the consequences of current consumption. The new programme is expected to have a coordinating role in research on sustainable consumption and, in the long term, to develop into the leading knowledge hub in a network of influential stakeholders, both in the academic community and elsewhere, in the subject area concerned.


Consumption of goods and services, driving growth, is a key foundation of modern society. At the same time, many of the environmental problems facing the world are connected with our production and consumption patterns. These problems include adverse impacts on the climate, unsustainable resource use, depletion of ecosystems, reduced biodiversity and environmentally polluting emissions. The goods and services we consume affect the environment, and also our health, throughout their life cycle, from production to distribution, use and recycling or destruction. Environmental impact depends both on how much we consume overall and on how what we consume affects the environment. Our behaviour and attitudes, too, play an important role. How do consumers choose — or refrain from choosing — to integrate environmental awareness into their decisions, and what is the role of norms, attitudes and values? There is a great deal of support for the view that we must develop present-day consumption patterns in a more sustainable direction.

Traditionally, control of our consumption has been exerted by means of financial instruments in the form of taxes and subsidies, through regulations in the form of laws and ordinances, and with information measures such as environmental labelling. We need to understand how various control instruments interact with one another and can best be combined to bring about sustainable consumption.

In December 2015 the world’s nations agreed on a new universal, legally binding climate deal: the Paris Agreement. The Agreement recognises that ‘sustainable lifestyles and sustainable patterns of consumption and production… play an important role in addressing climate change.’ In September of the same year, the world’s leaders had undertaken to pursue 17 global Sustainable Development Goals, one of which is to ‘Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns’. Such patterns are seen as preconditions for a transition to a more sustainable economy.

In spring 2016, Mistra appointed an international panel of experts tasked with drawing up a background report ahead of a decision on a call for proposals concerning sustainable consumption. The panel’s remit included recommending the focus of a new research programme on the subject. This call is based on the expert panel’s conclusions and proposal in their report Sustainable Consumption: Research Challenges (Appendix 1).


On the basis of the expert panel’s recommendations, Mistra has selected four areas that may be included in a research programme. Mistra requires at least two of these to be clearly covered by programme proposals submitted:

  • Sustainable consumption, well-being and the Good Life
  • Sustainability in supply chains
  • Alternative systems of provisioning for sustainable consumption
  • Policies fostering sustainable consumption.

The research must focus on formulating solutions rather than describing consequences of current consumption. It must have the potential to be transformative; have a system perspective; take into account sustainability, including health aspects and emissions with an environmental impact, throughout the supply chain; and be interdisciplinary or cross-disciplinary in nature. It is extremely important to actively involve recipients of the research results right from the planning stage, and on throughout the whole research progress, and to forge ties with stakeholders with ownership of the problems concerned, such as government agencies, consumer organisations, NGOs and companies that can, and wish to, make a difference. The programme must also help to build networks and achieve coordination of Swedish research in sustainable consumption.

A changed consumption pattern is part of the solution to reduce climate change. Mistra therefore expects dialogue, sharing of experience and, where relevant, collaboration between this programme and other Mistra programmes that focus, entirely or partly, on the climate.

Who can apply?

This call addresses research groups in all academic disciplines working at Swedish higher education institutions, research institutes and companies, as well as purchasers in the business and public sectors and civil society. Researchers and organisations active outside Sweden may participate, but the principal applicant and planned programme host must be a Swedish institution.

The host organisation and other organisations taking part are expected to be coordinated in a consortium that submits a joint proposal.

Special conditions

  1. Co-funding from, for example, government agencies, consumer organisations, NGOs and companies, at 10% of the total programme budget, is required. The co-funder’s contribution may be partly in kind, such as staff involved in the programme. The co-funding requirement is based on experience that commitment and integration in the programme are enhanced when more than one organisation contributes resources. The co-funding expected must be reported in the proposal and attested with certificates. Mistra favours further co-funding over and above the 10% requirement.

2.   Current rules concerning indirect costs: see Appendix 3.

Application process and review

The programme proposal must be written in English (apart from a summary in Swedish) and its maximum length is 75 pages, including appendices. The CVs for key participants may be up to one page long per person. The proposal must also include certificates from the planned programme host and co-funding organisations. Content in excess of 75 pages will not be taken into account in the evaluation.

Summary in English and Swedish

  1. Vision, aims and expected impact
  2. Scientific value of the programme
  3. Benefits of the programme to society
  4. Organisation of the programme
  5. Skills and networks
  6. Description of component projects
  7. Deliverables
  8. Communication
  9. Budget (for budget template to be used, see Appendix 4).

Note that the proposal must clearly specify the (a) preliminary programme title, (b) planned programme host, (c) planned programme director and (d) contact person for the proposal, with full contact details.

The proposal should be sent as a single PDF file, by email to, to reach Mistra not later than Monday 6 March 2017 at 4:00 pm.

Mistra intends to award research funding to one (1) of the programme proposals submitted. It is not possible to apply for funds for individual projects within the scope of this call.

Evaluation criteria

All the proposals will be evaluated according to the following criteria, in which the potential for solving environmental problems and the expected contribution to sustainable development are crucially important:

  1. Approach, i.e. how far the programme has a central, coherent idea and an innovative direction, how well the aims are formulated and how well the anticipated effects are reported (including indicators).
  2. Scientific quality, i.e. how well the programme meets the high requirements in terms of skills, theoretical standards and methodological quality.
  3. Benefits, i.e. how well developed the collaboration with users of the research results is (and is expected to be) and which supportive communication processes and methods will be used to attain effective implementation.
  4. Management and organisation, i.e. the manner in which the programme will be integrated in the host organisation, how it will be governed and structured, and to what degree it will make efficient use of resources.
  5. Competitiveness, i.e. the ways in which the programme has the potential to help promote Sweden’s competitiveness and prosperity in a broad sense.

Time schedule

21 September                            Call opens

6 March                                      Call closes
March–April                               Evaluation of proposals
June                                            Award decisions taken by Mistra’s Board
August (preliminary)                Programme start


Malin Lindgren
+46-(0)761 123 700