Current consumption patterns need to change in order to reach a sustainable consumption.
Tired Earth: An Interview with Göran Finnveden, Professor of Environmental Strategic Analysis

This interview was conducted by Selva Ozelli


Tell us about your presentation on SDG 12 Sustainable Consumption and Production at Stockholm +50.

In May 13th, we organized an Associated Event to the Stockholm +50 conference which is being held June, 2-3. Our event focused on how to achieve consumption that is in line with climate targets. It included a presentation of the new Swedish proposal to establish a new consumption-based climate net-zero target, including emissions also outside Swedish borders caused by Swedish consumption. This target would be in addition to the existing net-zero target for emissions inside Swedish borders. There were also presentations on how consumption needs to change in order to be in line with climate targets. More info is available here Webinar: A Radically New Consumption - What Could Climate Commitments Imply? - MISTRA Sustainable Consumption.

How are unsustainable consumption and production patterns driving a triple planetary crisis of climate, biodiversity and pollution?

Current consumption patterns need to change in order to reach a sustainable consumption. We know that technology and changed production patterns are important but also that it is not enough. Also consumption practises need to change. This include changes in transportation, housing and food. Increased efficiency is critical but not enough, also sufficiency needs to be explored as a strategy for sustainable consumption.

How can we adjust/change the current economic systems we rely on for our prosperity and wellbeing to achieve the objectives of the Agenda2030?

Societies need to focus on values that they want to achieve, such as a decent life for its citizens including access to food, housing, health care, education and a healthy environment that can provide water, food, clean air, a liveable climate and other ecosystem services. If this is the focus, the economic system can be seen as a means and not the goal in itself.

What other actors, alliances and partnerships do you rely on in working on the transition to a more sustainable, low carbon, inclusive and circular economy?

Our research program (Mistra Sustainable Consumption – from niche to mainstream) is working with a range of societal partners including small and large businesses, governmental agencies, NGOs and municipalities. This is critical for understanding the challenges in moving from a situation where more sustainable practises are seen as niche practises, to a situation where it has become mainstream. More info is available here Home New - MISTRA Sustainable Consumption.

Which countries participate in this initiative?

The research program has it's current focus on Sweden, although the research is relevant also for many other countries. In our ongoing second phase we do however want to explore possibilities for more international cooperation.

How can people change their behavior/habits on a daily basis to contribute  to a radically new consumption agenda?

In our research we are focusing on consumption practises rather than individual behaviour. This is because people are consuming in a context where infrastructure, knowledge and norms are forming consumption practises. This means that changes in consumption can start with changes in all these aspects, but also that the questions are complex. Just focusing on actual behaviour is not enough, also contextual factors need to change, but can also be changed by behaviour. We know from our research that changes in three areas (food, holiday travels and furniture) can reduce carbon emissions by almost 40 % already today. So there are possibilities for changes already now. These can be made by individuals, but also businesses, policy makers and NGOs. Systemic changes are necessary and they need support from many actors. In a report published recently we present 62 potential enablers for a more sustainable consumption. These are enablers that can be practised by different actors already today.

How can people get in touch with you?

Information about the research program and contact details are available on the web site of the program Home New - MISTRA Sustainable Consumption.


The best of Tired Earth delivered to your inbox

Sign up for more inspiring photos, stories, and special offers from Tired Earth