The Role of Governments in Education for Sustainable Consumption: Strengthening capacity for effective implementation in China, Japan, and Republic of Korea

Policy Report
The Role of Governments in Education for Sustainable Consumption: Strengthening capacity for effective implementation in China, Japan, and Republic of Korea

National and sub-national policy for Education for Sustainable Consumption (ESC) is one of the powerful instruments to influence sustainable consumption (SC) behaviour at both individual and organisational levels. This report addresses how to improve the capacity of policy makers and governments in formulating ESC policy. It also addresses the strategies governments can use to influence consumer behaviour.
The report presents three country case studies that look at the current institutional frameworks and governmental capacities for implementing effective ESC from P. R. China, Japan and Republic of Korea. Despite diverse policy dialogues and many initiatives on SCP, there is still a lack of knowledge and experience on how we actually can educate nations and their citizens for sustainable consumption. The main research was conducted through survey and interviews with relevant government officials in P. R. China, Japan and Republic of Korea, and it was supported by additional review of current policy frameworks and strategic plans and assessment of training materials/curriculums. This research was conducted in the respective countries by research partners at Beijing Normal University, Tokyo City University and Consumers Union of Korea in close collaboration with IGES.
The promotion of sustainable consumption and green markets has received attention from many national governments including the P. R. China, Japan and the Republic of Korea. All three countries have demonstrated interest and commitment towards shifting to more sustainable patterns of development and have also recognised the importance of sustainable consumption in achieving this. However, ESC still remains a very young and even novel topic that does not yet have substantial policy mandates to ensure its implementation in these countries, and thus there are many opportunities for capacity building to advance effective implementation.
The findings from this research identify key aspects of current governmental context for promoting SC and consumer awareness raising (including relevant policy frameworks, overall strategies, understandings of government officials, and barriers and obstacles to implementation). The three country cases are then analysed in a comparative capacity assessment. The assessment framework is based on the four levers of change identified by UNDP for assessing capacity assets and needs: 1) institutional arrangements, 2) leadership, 3) knowledge, and 4) accountability.
The main focus of the recommendations is on improving the wider policy and institutional frameworks for ESC implementation and to discuss how ESC can be better linked with wider policies for both sustainable production and consumption (SCP) and education for sustainable development (ESD). The primary recommendations in this work address:
1) Expanding roles and responsibilities for ESC beyond national governments;
2) Applying multiple policy mechanisms and inter-ministerial/inter-agency approaches;
3) Defining policy priorities and target areas for sustainable consumption;
4) Addressing ESC as a thematic approach to ESD and SCP;
5) Improving accountability as a means to strengthen the overall system, and;
6) Advancing ESC in formal education curriculums.

Lee, So-Young
Kang, Jung Hwa