Institute for Technology Assessment and  Systems Analysis (ITAS)

You can buy sustainability ... can’t you?

On Thursday, 23 June 2016, at 6 p.m. the next session of the ITAS series of events "technik.kontrovers" will take place. The evening event will focus on the question of responsibility for sustainable economic behavior.
"Stray shopping cart" by Holger Prothmann (Source: CC BY-NC 2.0)

Politics are supposed to regulate, manufacturers to produce in a resource-efficient way, and consumers to be conscious buyers. But how much responsibility does each of us bear? Should we be more conscious consumers or increase the pressure on policy makers? And how promising is the certification of products with sustainability labels or the renunciation of the objectives of economic growth?

These questions will be discussed by ITAS scientists Jürgen Kopfmüller and Richard Beecroft with the head of the institute Armin Grunwald and the participants of the thematic evening "You can buy sustainability ... can’t you?" on 23 June 2016, at 6 p.m. in the foyer of the institute (Karlstraße 11). To get started, the scientists will briefly describe three possible points of view in the discussion.

Position 1: Pressure on policy makers

Consumers cause damage to the environment and should therefore consume in a more sustainable way. This is not wrong, but at most only half the truth. Sustainability is related to the question how we want to live – as a society and within our environment. This is not a personal matter and cannot be imposed on consumers. The political level has to be responsible for the implementation of sustainability-friendly framework conditions. Therefore citizens are called on to put pressure on politicians.

Position 2: Market-related perspective

The objective of sustainable consumption is not only relevant for consumers, but also for politics and producers as manufacturers of the consumed goods. So producers have to question typical goal-oriented aspects like maximization of profit, return on investment, or market share. Consumers are asked to look beyond the pure satisfaction of their own individual needs and politics have to set the framework conditions for responsible action.

Position 3: Culture of sustainability

All of this is likely to have no effect if humans are only involved as voters or consumers, but not as individuals: It is about reforming our economic behavior, which has to be based on a "culture of sustainability". Latest developments like the sharing economy, the growing number of repair cafés, and the economy of the common good movement are encouraging signs for the growing social dynamics of sustainable development. (16.06.2016)

Further information: