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Sustainable consumption, the new economics and community currencies: Developing new institutions for environmental governance

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  • Gill Seyfang
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    Abstract

    Seyfang G. (2006) Sustainable consumption, the new economics and community currencies: developing new institutions for environmental governance, Regional Studies 40, 781-791. Sustainable consumption is gaining currency as a new environmental policy objective, but there is a limit to the changes in consumption behaviour that individuals can make within current socio-economic frameworks. The 'new economics' literature argues that sustainable consumption is characterized by five factors: localization, reducing ecological footprints, community-building, collective action, and building new social institutions. These form a set of indicators for the evaluation of initiatives and policies. Community currencies have been put forward as a new tool to promote sustainable consumption, but until now there has been no appraisal of their ability to deliver this goal. Three different community currency types are described, and their effectiveness and potential in enabling more sustainable consumption patterns are assessed against this set of indicators. The currencies examined are: Local Exchange Trading Schemes (LETS), which aim to rebuild local economies through cashless exchange; Time Banks promoting volunteering, civic engagement and mutual self-help by rewarding unpaid work in the community; and the previously unresearched NU card, a 'green loyalty point' currency that incentivizes sustainable consumption. The findings of this preliminary analysis indicate that while they all represent nascent social institutions based on different sets of values to the mainstream, each model of community currency successfully achieves some, but not all, of the criteria for sustainable consumption. However, the currencies are complementary and between them each of the indicators is met. The policy and research implications of the study are discussed. Seyfang G. (2006) La consommation durable, la nouvelle economie et les devises communautaires: developper des institutions nouvelles en faveur de la gouvernance ecologique, Regional Studies 40, 781-791. La consommation durable se repand comme nouvel objectif de la politique ecologique, mais le changement de comportement du que pourrait faire le consommateur individuel dans le cadre socio-economique actuel a ses limites. La documentation sur la 'nouvelle economie' affirme que la consommation durable se caracterise par cinq facteurs: la localisation, la reduction des tracees ecologiques, l'esprit communautaire, l'action collective, et l'etablissement de nouvelles institutions sociales. Ces facteurs-ci constituent un ensemble d'indicateurs qui sert a evaluer les initiatives et les politiques. Des devises communautaires ont ete avancees comme nouvel outil afin d'encourager la consommation durable, mais jusqu'ici, il n'y a eu aucune evaluation de leur capacite de realiser cet objectif. On presente trois types de devises communautaires differentes et on evalue dans quelle mesure elles sont efficaces et ont du potentiel pour faciliter la consommation durable par rapport a cet ensemble d'indicateurs. Les devises examinees sont les suivantes: Local Exchange Trading Schemes (LETS) qui cherchent a reconstruire les economies locales par moyen des echanges par virement; Time Banks qui encouragent le volontariat, l'obligation civique et l'entraide en recompensant le travail d'interet public non-remunere; et la carte NU qui n'a pas ete recherchee auparavant, 'une devise verte de fidelite' qui encourage la consommation durable. Les resultats de cette premiere analyse indiquent que chacun des modeles de la devise communautaire reussit certains des criteres necessaires a la realisation de la consommation durable, tandis qu'ils representent tous des institutions sociales naissantes fondees sur des ensembles de valeurs qui ne sont pas dans le courant dominant. Cependant, les devises sont complementaires et entre elles realisent chacun des indicateurs. On discute des retombees de l'etude quant a la politique et a la recherche. Consommation durable Devises communautaires Institutions Gouvernance environnementale Systemes economiques Localisation Seyfang G. (2006) Nachhaltiger Konsum, neue Wirtschaft und Sozialwahrungen: der Aufbau neuer Institutionen zur Umsetzung von Umweltpolitik, Regional Studies 40, 781-791. Nachhaltiger Konsum findet als neues umweltpolitisches Ziel immer starkere Verbreitung, doch innerhalb der bestehenden soziookonomischen Rahmen sind dem Einzelnen bei der Anderung seines Konsumverhaltens Grenzen gesetzt. In der Literatur uber 'neue Wirtschaft' wird nachhaltiger Konsum anhand von funf Faktoren charakterisiert: Lokalisierung, Verringerung des okologischen Fussabdrucks, Aufbau von Gemeinschaften, kollektives Handeln und Aufbau neuer Gesellschaftsinstitutionen. Diese Indikatoren ermoglichen gemeinsam die Bewertung von Initiativen und Politiken. Sozialwahrungen werden als neues Instrument zur Forderung des nachhaltigen Konsums befurwortet, doch bisher wurde noch nicht untersucht, wie gut sich dieses Ziel damit verwirklichen lasst. In diesem Beitrag werden drei verschiedene Arten von Sozialwahrungen beschrieben, deren tatsachliche und potentielle Wirksamkeit zur Ermoglichung nachhaltigerer Konsumgewohnheiten anhand der genannten Indikatoren bewertet wird. Untersucht werden die folgenden Wahrungen: Das 'Local Exchange Trading Scheme' (LETS), mit dem die lokale Wirtschaft durch bargeldlosen Austausch wiederaufgebaut werden soll, 'Time Banks' zur Forderung von Freiwilligenarbeit, sozialem Engagement und gegenseitiger Selbsthilfe durch die Belohnung von unbezahlter Arbeit in der Gemeinschaft, und die bisher noch nicht untersuchte 'NU-Card', eine Wahrung in Form 'gruner Treuepramien' zur Schaffung von Anreizen fur nachhaltigen Konsum. Aus den Ergebnissen dieser vorlaufigen Analyse geht hervor, dass alle diese Wahrungen neu entstehende Gesellschaftsinstitutionen darstellen, die auf von der herrschenden Stromung abweichenden Werten grunden. Allerdings erfullen alle Sozialwahrungsmodelle jeweils nur einige Kriterien des nachhaltigen Konsums, nicht jedoch alle. Hierbei ist jedoch zu berucksichtigen, dass sich die Wahrungen einander erganzen und als Gesamtheit betrachtet alle Indikatoren erfullen. Ebenfalls erortert werden die Konsequenzen dieser Studie fur Politik und Forschung. Nachhaltiger Konsum Sozialwahrungen Institutionen Umsetzung von Umweltpolitik Wirtschaftssysteme Lokalisierung Seyfang G. (2006) Consuno sostenible, las nuevas economias y monedas comunitarias: desarrollando nuevas instituciones para la gobernanza medioambiental, Regional Studies 40, 781-791. El consumo sostenido esta ganando adeptos como nuevo objetivo en la politica medioambiental. Sin embargo, los cambios que los individuos pueden introducir en la conducta de consumo estan limitados en las actuales estructuras socioeconomicas. En la literatura sobre las 'nuevas economias' se sostiene que el consumo sostenido se caracteriza por cinco factores: uso de recursos locales, disminucion de las huellas ecologicas, la construccion de la comunidad, acciones colectivas y la creacion de nuevas instituciones sociales. Estos factores constituyen un grupo de indicadores para evaluar las iniciativas y las politicas. Las monedas comunitarias fueron propuestas como una nueva herramienta para fomentar el consumo sostenible pero hasta ahora no se ha analizado si pueden conseguir este objetivo. Aqui se describen tres tipos diferentes de monedas analizando su eficacia y potencial para crear modelos de consumo mas sostenido en funcion de este grupo de indicadores. Las monedas estudiadas son: Sistemas Locales de Intercambio Comercial (LETS) cuyo objetivo es reconstruir las economias locales mediante el intercambio sin dinero; los Bancos de Tiempo que fomentan el voluntariado, la participacion civica y la autoayuda mutua compensando el trabajo no remunerado en la comunidad; y la tarjeta NU, que hasta ahora no se ha investigado y que es una moneda de puntos verdes de lealtad que estimula el consumo sostenible. Los resultados de este analisis preliminar indican que aunque todos representan a instituciones sociales emergentes segun unos grupos de valores que son diferentes a lo tradicional, cada modelo de moneda comunitaria consigue con exito algunos de los criterios para el consumo sostenible pero no todos. Sin embargo, como las monedas son complementarias, entre ellas se obtienen cada uno de los indicadores. Aqui analizo las implicaciones politicas y de investigacion de este estudio. Consumo sostenible Monedas comunitarias Instituciones Gobernanza medioambiental Sistemas economicos Localizacion

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Regional Studies.

    Volume (Year): 40 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 7 ()
    Pages: 781-791

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    Handle: RePEc:taf:regstd:v:40:y:2006:i:7:p:781-791

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    Related research

    Keywords: Sustainable consumption; Community currencies; Institutions; Environmental governance; Economic systems; Localization;

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    1. Sawyer, Malcolm (ed.), 2004. "The UK Economy," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, edition 16, number 9780199266517.
    2. Sanne, Christer, 2002. "Willing consumers--or locked-in? Policies for a sustainable consumption," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1-2), pages 273-287, August.
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    Cited by:
    1. Miklós Antal & Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh, 2014. "Macroeconomics, Financial Crisis and the Environment. Strategies for a Sustainability Transition," WIFO Working Papers 464, WIFO.
    2. Middlemiss, Lucie & Parrish, Bradley D., 2010. "Building capacity for low-carbon communities: The role of grassroots initiatives," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(12), pages 7559-7566, December.
    3. Jiang, Ping & Chen, Yihui & Xu, Bin & Dong, Wenbo & Kennedy, Erin, 2013. "Building low carbon communities in China: The role of individual’s behaviour change and engagement," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 611-620.

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