Global Research Forum on Sustainable Production and Consumption - Sustainable Lifestyles, Livelihoods and the Circular Economy

GRF’s third international meeting will convene researchers, development practitioners, policy makers and representatives from business, government and civil society to explore critical links between the circular economy, sustainable lifestyles and livelihoods and the Sustainable Development Goals. We will examine the potential for, pathways to, and politics of advancing a global transition from the current linear “throw-away” model to sustainable production and consumption systems and practices in “circular economies.” Keeping with GRF’s emphasis on global perspectives, we will explore these questions across different regions and communities, in both industrialized and developing countries. ‚Äč

Conference theme and objectives

The conference explores paths to sustainable production and consumption through the synergies and tensions among the circular economy, sustainable lifestyles and livelihoods, and their implications for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The “circular economy” is proposed as a key business and policy strategy for sustainable development, gaining traction in both the industrialized and developing world. Premised on the recognition that linear economies are unsustainable on a finite planet, the concept of a circular economy proposes a restorative and regenerative economic system, using renewable resources, optimizing resource use and recovery, and supporting sustainable livelihoods and lifestyles. Policymakers are increasingly seeing the circular economy as a way to create jobs and increase prosperity in the face of rising natural resource costs and companies are incorporating the concept into their business models and practices. The circular economy could offer a genuine win-win: improving the quality of life while reducing environmental degradation, a key aspiration of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

However, critical engagement with the concept and practice raises several questions about the opportunities and challenges in transitions to a circular economy. GRF’s third international conference convenes stakeholders from multiple domains -- researchers, development practitioners, policy makers and representatives from business, government and civil society -- to explore some of key questions and debates on the circular economy and their implications for lifestyles and livelihoods in both industrialized and developing countries, including:
 

  • How can the circular economy produce more decent work opportunities in developing countries and help in the fight against poverty? Under what circumstances could it displace informal sector economic activities, exacerbating poverty and precarity?
  • In what ways can circular economies produce sustainable lifestyles and livelihoods or possibly perpetuate unsustainable consumption patterns in the industrialized world?
  • Where does the circular economy stand in relation to different economic paradigms (e.g., continuing growth, steady-state, de-growth)?
  • How might a circular economy and the rise of sustainable lifestyles and livelihoods shift power relations between corporations, citizen- consumers and the State? In what ways could this shift democratize control over resources and decision-making or consolidate corporate power.
  • We invite contributions that address these key lines of inquiry and debate through contributions that cover any of the following conference questions:

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