Improving Nordic policymaking by dispelling myths on sustainable consumption

image of Improving Nordic policymaking by dispelling myths on sustainable consumption

As Nordic countries have an ambition to be sustainability leaders, enabling sustainable consumption and lifestyles with efficient policies is an important part of reaching this goal. Research demonstrates that evidence from behavioural and social science is not routinely incorporated into policy design. Consequently, some persistent misconceptions – myths – about consumer behaviour have perpetuated in the mainstream discourse, especially in policy circles. The goal of this study is to dispel myths that thwart sustainability by bringing forward existing evidence on consumer behaviour to aid the development of efficient policies in Nordic countries. A meta-analysis of the existing international research on consumer behaviour from psychology, sociology, behavioural economics, policy and anthropology was conducted. The results demonstrate that it is unrealistic to expect a sustainable society to materialise from current political strate gies. The changes needed are significant, and this study shows that policy makers need to create the ”politics of possibility”towards sustainability by using the plethora of existing and innovative strategies and tools synergistically.

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Consumers and green consumption

Can consumers drive a shift to a sustainable society by choosing ecoproducts and thereby “greening the market”? The research and the experience of Nordic policy makers demonstrate that although it is vital to provide sustainable goods and encourage consumers to choose them, it is over-optimistic to assume that this is the key path to sustainable consumption patterns.

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