Abstract

Our paper explores the implications of globalization for sustainable consump tion governance. It draws its central findings from a structured inquiry into the implications of globalization for the sustainability of household consumption. Our focus is on industrialized countries and the two consumption clusters food and mobility, which previous research has identified as priority areas for intervention. We find that for both food and mobility, globalization exerts a substantial influence on the sustainability of consumption through similar channels. Moreover, a significant part of this influence is exerted indirectly, i.e. affects prior determinants ofthe sustainability of household consumption rather than household consumption choices themselves. Based on our analysis, we suggest guidelines for the development of governance strategies in pursuit of sustain able consumption. In terms of general guidelines, we highlight the need for multilateral ifnot global strategies, as well as a comprehensive targeting of direct and indirect influences of globalization. Furthermore, we emphasize that governance strategies should pay particular attention to opportunities arising from the positive influences of globalization on the sustainability of consumption. In terms of specific guidelines, we argue that governance efforts should pay special attention to agricultural production conditions as well as transport options, as those pivotal determinants ofthe sustainability offood and mobility consumption are influenced by almost all ofthe elements of globalization. Likewise, we suggest that governance strategies need to address capital concentration, in particular, since the latter can be shown to influence almost all ofthe determinants of the sustainability of consumption.

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Author notes

Research for this article was sponsored by ProSus Norway, the Program for Research and Documentation for a Sustainable Society at the University of Oslo. We wish to thank Hans Bressers, William Lafferty, and the participants at the ProSus/CSTM Workshop on Sustainable Consumption at the University of Twente in November 2000 for their valuable comments.