Keywords: sustainable consumption, MFA, material flow analysis, policy impacts, policy outcomes, policy instruments, policy mix, future-oriented evaluation, industrial ecology, sustainability, consumption patterns
Policies to promote sustainable consumption: framework for a future-oriented evaluation
Governments are today developing policies to promote Sustainable Consumption (SC), yet policy makers face many uncertainties about policy impacts. These include uncertainties about how policy instruments influence consumption patterns and about the impact of changes in consumption patterns on ecological, social and economic sustainability. An assessment of such impacts must account for the fact that consumer action is interlinked with the dynamic activities of other market players and the path-creating effects of technologies and systems of consumption and provision. Our paper presents an interdisciplinary conceptual framework for assessing policies to promote SC. It aims to identify the most promising mixes of policy instruments for SC and to use Material Flow Analysis (MFA) to model prospective impacts of policies on selected sustainability indicators in Europe and internationally, and to determine best practices of such policies for the next decades.