A differentiated approach for sustainable consumption and production policies


Christian Brodhag is a Professor at Ecole des Mines de Saint-Etienne, France. Email: Christian.BRODHAG@emse.fr.


The importance of sustainable consumption and production in the international agenda has been growing, both because of unsustainable patterns of consumption and production in industrialized countries and because it appears to be a means for meeting the essential needs of developing countries. Adapting Fernand Braudel's model of the three layers of the economy (everyday life, market economy and global capitalism) to the current situation, this paper advocates for differentiated policies, which cannot be limited to those based on the dominant model of a rational legal system dealing with rational consumers. The cultural and collective dimensions of consumption, the social role of conspicuous consumption, the consumption of ecological services outside formal markets, the diversity of approaches to knowledge and rationality, all plead for an overarching approach and diversified policy tools. The paper underlines the need for global regulation processes which involve all stakeholders by focusing on two examples: the international task force on sustainable tourism, and the ISO 26000 standard on social responsibility.