chapter  B9
24 Pages


Linking sustainable consumption and growth debates following a systems-thinking approach
WithAndré Martinuzzi, Michal Sedlačko, Jill Jaeger

Consumption patterns and their environmental and social externalities are considered to be among the main drivers of unsustainability. Although the concept of sustainable consumption has found its way into policy and research agendas, it is rarely discussed in connection with economic growth. In the RESPONDER project we aimed to link various sustainable consumption and growth debates through a knowledge brokerage system centred on participatory systems-thinking tools. We developed and tested these tools across a series of dialogues and events in five consumption areas (food, housing, mobility, household electronics, and household savings and debt), and used a web-based knowledge platform for continuous dialogue and an interactive presentation of “system maps”. In addition to bridging the gap between science and policy-making, the project also improved mutual understanding between what could be called the “pro-growth community” and the “beyond-growth community”. It did this by helping the participating researchers and policy-makers to better understand and handle paradigmatic contradictions, conflicts of interest and trade-offs. Policy-makers in particular benefited from experiencing innovative forms of knowledge brokerage, easy access to research findings and networking. Researchers, on the other hand, benefited from better understanding the rationality of decision-makers, an improvement of mutual understanding across different paradigms, and the development of a joint research agenda.