Vivid first discussion on draft Conference Statement

Development Policy09 Jun 2010Bas de Leeuw

Participants discussed the draft statement on Wednesday afternoon. Their comments included:

  • There should be attention to the implementation challenges of innovation – addressing the obstacles to make it happen, barriers include for instance corporate cultural factors;
  • Not everybody agreed that eco-innovation would in principle reduce growth;
  • Not everybody agreed that shifting from work to leisure – or as one participant put it “shifting from paid work to unpaid work” – has significant positive environmental impacts. Others argued that leisure is not unpaid work, but ‘consumption’. It is important to know how the extra leisure time is spent. If the individual spends the extra time on holidays or watching TV, then this has environmental consequences as well. The more income and the less time the more resource intensive the holidays will be spent. Research on lifestyles and price and income elasticities thus very important, as well as the influence of advertising on consumer behavior;
  • Some questioned whether more leisure necessarily means ‘more happiness’, if this was true, one participant observed, than unemployed people would be the happiest in the world.
  • One participant said that the Statement was reflecting a developed country perspective, and that developing country perspective should be added, in particular with regard to concepts of labor, quality of life, and consumption.
  • The statement on relevance of LED-shifting in a solar based world may not be correct;
  • A focus on the underlying causes, rather than symptoms (growth), should be reflected in the document. The language could also be phrased more positively, instead of pollution problems one could talk about development challenges. It was observed that instead of focusing on decreasing the overall volume of consumption as such, it is more important to look at changing to less resource intensive patterns of consumption. Consumption which is less damaging, being brought about by behavioral change, inspired by price incentives, legislation and providing information.
  • Inputs from psychologists and sociologists were seen as required for a better analysis.