The 3rd Global Research Forum (GRF) conference on SCP:
“Sustainable lifestyles, livelihoods and the circular economy”
The GRF's third international meeting will convene researchers, development practitioners, policy makers and representatives from business, government and civil society to explore critical links between the circular economy, sustainable lifestyles and livelihoods and the Sustainable Development Goals.
The conference will examine the potential for, pathways to, and politics of advancing a global transition from the current linear "throw-away" model to sustainable production and consumption systems and practices in "circular economies." Keeping with GRF's emphasis on global perspectives, these questions will be explored across different regions and communities, in both industrialised and developing countries.
Conference theme and objectives
The conference explores paths to sustainable production and consumption (SCP) through the synergies and tensions among the circular economy (CE), sustainable lifestyles and livelihoods, and their implications for the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The "circular economy" is proposed as a key business and policy strategy for sustainable development, gaining traction in both the industrialised and developing world.
Premised on the recognition that linear economies are unsustainable on a finite planet, the concept of a circular economy proposes a restorative and regenerative economic system, using renewable resources, optimising resource use and recovery, and supporting sustainable livelihoods and lifestyles. Policymakers are increasingly seeing the circular economy as a way to create jobs and increase prosperity in the face of rising natural resource costs and companies are incorporating the concept into their business models and practices.
The circular economy could offer a genuine win-win: improving the quality of life while reducing environmental degradation, a key aspiration of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
However, critical engagement with the concept and practice raises several questions about the opportunities and challenges in transitions to a circular economy. GRF's third international conference convenes stakeholders from multiple domains -- researchers, development practitioners, policy makers and representatives from business, government and civil society -- to explore some of key questions and debates on the circular economy and their implications for lifestyles and livelihoods in both industrialised and developing countries, including:
· How can the circular economy produce more decent work opportunities in developing countries and help in the fight against poverty? Under what circumstances could it displace informal sector economic activities, exacerbating poverty and precarity?
· In what ways can circular economies produce sustainable lifestyles and livelihoods or possibly perpetuate unsustainable consumption patterns in the industrialised world?
· Where does the circular economy stand in relation to different economic paradigms (e.g., continuing growth, steady-state, de-growth)?
· How might a circular economy and the rise of sustainable lifestyles and livelihoods shift power relations between corporations, citizen-consumers and the State? In what ways could this shift democratise control over resources and decision-making or consolidate corporate power?
The conference organiser invites contributions that address these key lines of inquiry and debate through contributions that cover any of the following conference questions:
1. How do we understand the concept and practice of the circular economy in developing countries vs. industrialised countries?
Relevant topics could include considering circular economy schemes and policies in different geographical contexts and in relation to SDG goals on Responsible Consumption and Production (SDG 12) and Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG 11).
2. What is the relationship between sustainable lifestyles and livelihoods, and the circular economy?
Relevant topics could include considering the role of changing cultural norms and social practices, achieving absolute reductions in waste and natural resource consumption levels, behavioral economics and building infrastructures for sustainability, the sharing economy and collaborative consumption, and the structural conditions shaping sustainable lifestyles and livelihoods.
3. How could transitions towards a more circular economy contribute to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals on reducing poverty and promoting sustainable livelihoods?
Relevant topics could include considering informal sector economies, sustainable livelihoods and SDG targets on Gender Equality (SDG 5), Good Health and Well-Being (SDG 3), Reduced Inequalities (SDG 10) and Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG 8), as well as other SDGs.
4. What types of socio-technical innovation, social marketing strategies, public policies and political reforms are required to change lifestyles and the current linear "throw-away" system to a circular system that operates within planetary boundaries?
Relevant topics could include considering carbon and resource pricing, incentives for innovation deployment, product design and re-manufacturing.
5. What types of financial systems, business strategies and supply chains would support the transition to a circular economy?
Relevant topics could include considering green financing mechanisms, trade and global value chains, roles of public and private investments and innovative business models.
The third International Global Research Forum on Sustainable Production and Consumption conference is hosted by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and the Science and Policy Research Unit (SPRU) of University of Sussex, both world leading research institutes focusing on accelerating sustainability transitions, socio-technical innovations, international development and building more inclusive and secure societies.
Co-organisers include Tearfund UK, SWITCH-Asia Programme, SCORAI Europe, Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP), Aalborg University and the MORE SL program under the 10 Year Framework Programme on Sustainable Lifestyles and Education. Contributing Partners include Earth System Governance Project, World Resources Forum, Future Earth Knowledge-Action Network on Systems of Sustainable Consumption and Production.
Expected conference outputs
Selected conference papers will be included in a Special Issue for the IDS Bulletin, the flagship journal from the Institute of Development Studies, and a Special Issue of the Journal of Cleaner Production.