Consumption & Sustainability

Fostering consumption and production patterns that promote fairness and conserve natural resources is a central objective of sustainable development. Forging pathways towards greater sustainability is a complex and challenging task. Science Platform Sustainability 2030 contributes towards efforts to achieve this objective within the scope of the German Sustainable Development Strategy.

Consumption, sustainability, and the role of science

Numerous approaches have been developed to promote sustainable consumption at various levels but these efforts have so far failed to bring about fundamental change. One notable example are the gains in energy efficiency achieved in Germany, which have yet to deliver substantial sustainability effects:

While energy efficiency has increased significantly in Germany since 2000, household energy consumption and carbon emissions have remained static. This outcome is the result of what are known as “rebound effects”, which translate efficiency gains into more consumption or economic growth.

Other possible approaches such as the downscaling of consumption and production clash with existing market structures and have not gained significant ground in policymaking to date.

Locating effective levers to foster sustainable consumption has proved difficult given the diverse dimensions that policies must address in order to transform consumption and production practices at the individual, local, national, and global levels. Creating change also requires that policymakers are cognisant of the many intertwining ecological, economic and social issues at work in this field.

Working Group

Tackling the challenge of sustainable consumption

The central goal of the working group on sustainable consumption is to enrich current research efforts with new perspectives and findings that are particularly relevant to the implementation and further development of the German Strategy for Sustainable Development. The group’s work focuses on three specific fields:

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