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Is Different Really Enough?.
Thoughts on a New Role for Consumption
Twenty years ago, the global action plan Agenda 21 proclaimed: »The major cause of the continued deterioration of the global environment is the unsustainable pattern of consumption and production, particularly in industrialised countries« (Section I, Chapter 4.3). Beyond the necessity »to promote efficiency in production processes and reduce wasteful consumption in the process of economic growth«, it defined the need forgovernments »to develop a domestic policy framework that will encourage a shift to more sustainable patterns of production and consumption« (Chapter 4.17). Thus, sustainable consumption was supposed to comprise not only efficiency gains in resource consumption, but also reductions in the overall consumption levels in industrialised countries, as well as fundamental changes in current consumption patterns. More than 20 years later, however, debates continue to focus on aspects of product efficiency and »smarter«, »greener« ways of consuming, while neglecting politically explosive – yet necessary – debates on sufficiency, de - growth, and radical change, as well as the questions of justice that sustainable consumption raises. As a consequence, emphasis is placed on consumers, who are being persuaded into believing that they can make a difference by buying the right products, thus saving both the market and the environment through the sheer power of their demand. While the impact of consumers′ decisions cannot be denied, the instrumentalisation of consumer behaviour obscures interests. Furthermore, it distracts from the common political responsibility to overcome the societal unease, which requires a notion of change that extends far beyond aesthetic corrections. Against this backdrop, the Friedrich - Ebert - Stiftung′s online portal, FES Sustainability, invited experts from different parts of the world to address the question of consumer responsibility in the necessary transformation process towards more sustainable consumption - production patterns, from an environmental and social justice perspective. How powerful is the consumer? How relevant are his decisions with regard to the necessary transformation of our production - consumption patterns? How do individual and collective responsibility, or lifestyle change and systematic change, respectively, relate to each other? How much power does the consumer have with respect to business?
Inhaltsverzeichnis :

Part 1: The Discussion
1. Converting Consumers to Cultural Pioneers and Eco - Missionaries
Erik Assadourian
Culture Samplers Instead of Cultural Pioneers and Eco - Missionaries
Comment by Julia Backhaus
Will the Sustainability of Life on the Planet Be Maintained by a New Generation of Heroes?
Comment by Jô Portilho

2. Sustainability and Consumption of Human Life
Jô Portilho
A Reform of Institutions Would Spare Us a Demoralising Debate
Comment by Lewis Akenji
Missing Strategies on How to Break Through the Systemic Failing
Comment by Erik Assadourian

3. Small is Beautiful: Enabling and Enjoying Sustainable Consumption
Julia Backhaus
We Need an Army of Do - Gooders
Comment by Lewis Akenji
We Cannot Expect the Transition to Post - Consumerism to Be »Easy and Fun«
Comment by Erik Assadourian

4. Sustainable Consumption or Consumer Scapegoatism? A Provocation
Lewis Akenji
What Kind of Corporate Reform and Alternative Institutional Logics
Do We Need and How Can We Bring Them About?
Comment by Julia Backhaus
The Biggest Question Is Left Unanswered: How Do We Get There?
Comment by Erik Assadourian
We Need Strong, Democratically - Managed Institutions,
Permeated by the Paradigm of Global Solidarity
Comment by Jô Portilho

Part 2: Joint Paper
5. NowHere, NoWhere – Where and When Is Utopia?
Judith Gouverneur

Part 3: The Different Perspective
6. After the Goldrush Some Remarks on the Influence of Product Design on the Modification of Lifestyles
Jörg Petruschat

About the Authors
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