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Systems of Sustainable Consumption and Production
15 September 2021: Webinar 1: From UnSustainable Consumption to Sustainable Production-Consumption Systems
Future Earth

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15 September 2021: Webinar 1: From UnSustainable Consumption to Sustainable Production-Consumption Systems

Date: September 15, 2021

Organized by the Working Group on the Political Economy of Sustainable Consumption and Production (Future Earth Knowledge and Action Network on Systems of Sustainable Consumption and Production)

15 September 2021 at 6:00AM to 7:30AM (Pacific); 3:00PM to 4:30PM (Central European Time); 6:30PM to 8:00PM (India); and 10:00PM to 11:30PM (Japan)

Please join us by registering at this link.

Please note that the link you receive upon registration will be used for all three webinars. 

Panelists: Rajeshwari Raina (India); Jayati Ghosh (India/USA); David Barkin (Mexico)
Moderator: Manu V. Mathai

The present and dominant discourse on sustainable consumption largely centres around an emphasis on lifestyle choices of individuals. This approach, with its focus on individual behaviour for realizing social change towards sustainability, builds on a neo-classical economic framing of individuals as rational economic beings, having sovereignty over their wants. The webinar asks why such a framing of sustainable consumption falls short, generally, but with an emphasis on the GS. The primary concern explored here is that it embeds an uncritical embrace of, and failure to problematize, the dominant development discourse in discussions on sustainability in the GS. Moving away from “sustainable consumption and production” (SCP) to a language of “production-consumption systems” introduces a political economy framing that better captures the discursive power of Development over individual options, aspirations and the notions of good life. Such a reframing helps rescue “SCP” from the minimally effective frame of individual actors making rational choices. Instead, by locating production at the front-end (in political economy terms and not “green production” as in industrial ecology) it can bring attention to the intersection of enabling conditions such as inequality, injustice, obsessive productivity, and manufactured aspirations that makes consumerism and “high mass consumption societies” possible.

The Webinar will discuss key questions including:

1. Why look beyond the prevailing neo-liberal emphasis in “SCP” on consumption and lifestyles or even “green production”?
2. How does reframing “SCP” in terms of the political economy of
production-consumption systems change our vocabulary?
3. How to engage and advance this alternative vocabulary against the dominant development discourse and practice in the GS?
4. What may be the limitations and pitfalls of this political economy language? How might they be averted or addressed?
5. Are there discursive innovations, partnerships, synergies and resonances that may be helpful in this context?

Download the flyer and concept note of the webinar series.

The webinars will be recorded and later published on Future Earth’s website and Youtube channel, as well as broadcast and shared on Future Earth channels.


Manu V. Mathai, Future Earth SSCP KAN, manu.mathai[@t]