, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 9-23

Not Roadmaps but Toolboxes: Analysing Pioneering National Programmes for Sustainable Consumption and Production

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Abstract

The profusion of knowledge about the complexity of promoting sustainable consumption has led to calls to address the issue in a cross-cutting manner. This article discusses pioneering national sustainable consumption and production (SCP) programmes as tools for informed decision making. The analysis is based on a theory of three organizing principles for SCP policy: (1) deliberation, (2) efficiency and (3) sufficiency. These organizing principles protect and enact particular values and can be promoted in either a weak or strong manner. A comparison of three SCP programmes from Finland, Sweden, and the UK shows that different programmes emphasize somewhat different principles: programmes in the UK and Finland emphasize the efficiency principle, whereas the Swedish programme places considerable emphasis on promoting sufficiency, as well. Meanwhile, deliberation is well presented in all the programmes, but the countries apply it somewhat differently. On the whole, government commitment to the programmes is limited, and clear targets, timetables, and resources are mentioned only occasionally. Thus, rather than being credible roadmaps towards SCP, the pioneering programmes take the form of mixed toolboxes. The programmes contain many innovative and potentially effective proposals, but in responding to the challenges acknowledged in the programme documents, individual actors must bear heavy responsibilities. From this perspective, the pioneering SCP programmes also provide false reassurance and a means to outsource the promotion of SCP to non-government actors.