The Politics of Sustainable Consumption: The Case of the Netherlands

This article, one from a symposium on the politics of sustainable consumption, considers the situation in the Netherlands. Despite growing interest in sustainability, the Netherlands currently has few effective and legitimate measures in place that focus on the role of citizen-consumers. The authors explore possible alternatives to facilitate sustainable consumption in the Netherlands and reviews the policy initiatives that non-governmental organizations and the Dutch government have to date undertaken. The authors note that existing policy styles and instruments have not reduced significantly the environmental impacts of consumption. The authors consider this problem as a tendency to rely on the presumed rationality of producers situated on the supply side of production-consumption chains. The authors analyze the governmental and nongovernmental efforts through a five-point theoretical framework designed to chart the development of a democratic vision of sustainable consumption. First, consumption-oriented environmental policymaking should be directed at “policy units” that are both environmentally significant and connected to the everyday-life rationality of citizen-consumers. Second, the selected policy-units (or consumption domains) need to be analyzed for prospective environmental hot spots that pose major environmental burdens (and concomitantly hold the potential for large-scale improvements). Third, an important issue related to developing environmental heuristics entails visualizing and framing environmental effects as objects of sustainable consumption policy. Fourth, environmental innovation progresses unevenly across the different consumption domains. Finally, consumption-oriented environmental policies suggest a need for the participation of citizen-consumers themselves. The authors conclude by calling for a more vigorous political debate regarding sustainable consumption and the role of citizen-consumers in environmental policymaking.


  • English

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  • Accession Number: 01000379
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 24 2005 12:40PM