Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.1016/j.jclepro.2013.08.045
Title (Primary) Sustainable consumption within a sustainable economy – beyond green growth and green economies
Author Lorek, S.; Spangenberg, J.H.
Journal Journal of Cleaner Production
Year 2014
Department BZF
Volume 63
Page From 33
Page To 44
Language englisch
Keywords Strong sustainable consumption; Green economy; Green growth; Sustainable development; Non-governmental organisations NGOs; Institutions
UFZ wide themes RU1;

In 1992, one unambiguous result of the UNCED conference was the need for changing consumption and production patterns, with affluent countries taking the lead. 20 years later, at the 2012 UNCSD, little is left over and instead the “green economy” has been the theme pursued by the OECD, the EU and other countries. So the question needs to be answered if this is finally an attempt to put into practice what was promised 20 years ago, or another diversion from what needs to be accomplished.

Sustainable development is still a convincing concept, if the original definition is taken, avoiding the confusion caused by partisan interests reinterpreting the concept. Focussing on human needs fulfilment and respecting environmental limits, it can still guide strong sustainable consumption. Green economy/green growth, on the other hand, is a new terminology for what is known since 40 years as ecological modernisation. It is indeed overdue, but with its focus on efficiency and innovation it cannot guarantee to fulfil the Brundtland sustainability criteria. A factor analysis based on the I = P*A*T formula demonstrates how optimistic the assumptions regarding future technologies must be to support the green growth concept. Consequently, the authors pledge for a pragmatic, risk avoiding approach by slimming the physical size of the economy. This requires ‘strong sustainable consumption’ (including production as resource consumption), which in turn requires a change of the societies' institutional settings (formal and informal, mechanisms and orientations).

Finally some elements of a strategy towards this end are pointed out, with special emphasis on the role of non-governmental organisations NGOs. Through networking and advocacy they can both stimulate bottom-up action and mobilise the pressure necessary for the institutional changes which are needed to mainstream strong sustainable consumption.

Persistent UFZ Identifier
Lorek, S., Spangenberg, J.H. (2014):
Sustainable consumption within a sustainable economy – beyond green growth and green economies
J. Clean Prod. 63 , 33 - 44