Expansion of Policy Domain of Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP): Challenges and Opportunities for Policy Design

Volume (Issue): 13(12)

Since 2015, the international policy community has started to agree on international agreements with ambitious middle-term and long-term goals, highly relevant to sustainable consumption and production (SCP) such as those seen in the Paris Agreement, SDGs, and the plastic-related agreements at the G7 and G20 processes. Along with this trend, there has been growing attention given to socio-technical system change or “transition”. Policy debate is putting more focus on the need to change consumption and production patterns and deal with various ecological consequences within planetary boundaries such as decarbonization, absolute reduction in material throughput, or creation of a plastic-free society. This paper examines the expansion of the policy domain of SCP in three phases; SCP focusing on pollution control and cleaner production (SCP 1.0), SCP from the perspective of product lifecycle (SCP 2.0), and SCP focusing on systematic changes in socio-technical systems driving consumption and production (SCP 3.0). The potential impact of a wider SCP policy domain can be comparable to the historical shift in discourse related to ecological modernization theory from pollution prevention to efficiency. This emerging trend corresponds to the need for a fresh approach to policy design which can facilitate transition to sustainability.