Action Town November 2008 - Spring 2011
The Action Town project aimed to develop concrete actions by creating partnerships between civil society organisations (CSO) and research organisations. It analysed how CSOs can provide new insights for research in sustainable consumption and production.
Some relative decoupling of economic growth from materials and energy consumption has been achieved in many EU countries during the past decade. However, this did not lead to an absolute decrease in environmental pressures, because absolute resource use has been generally remained steady over the past two decades. Moreover, due to the ‘rebound effect', it is unlikely that resource use can be reduced by technological improvements alone. This leads us to the conclusion that sustainability of current lifestyles and consumption patterns may have to be critically reviewed.
In order to reach the goal of shifting towards less environmentally damaging consumption patterns without reductions in the "quality of life", contributions from and agreement among a variety of economic and societal actors are required. Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have the unique position to bring a variety of actors together and convince them to take action for more transformational type of change beyond resource productivity measures. They can encourage concrete set of goals to drive away from currently unsustainable patterns of consumption. How to enhance the effectiveness of such CSO activities is the core question.
The Action Plans
This project looked into how CSOs can provide new insights for research in sustainable consumption and production with the goal of reaching absolute decoupling of economic growth from resource use.
The objectives of the project were:
- Identifying gaps (1) in the knowledge of CSO's on how to shape consumption and production patterns in a sustainable way, and (2) in the research agenda for sustainable consumption and production policy strategies, assessment tools and indicators;
- Providing new insights for increasing efficiency of policy strategies, assessment tools and indicators for sustainable consumption and production through small-scale exploratory actions;
- Creating partnerships between CSOs and research organisations to increase involvement of CSOs in research.
Specific contribution by SERI
Three CSOs from Latvia, Spain, Turky and Ukraine were selected as national focal points for accumulating and disseminating knowledge on sustainable consumption and production. Sylvia Lorek from SERI Germany was involved in the project on behalf of ANPED, which coordinated the CSO collaboration.