Browsing by Author "Berg, Annukka"

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  • Berg, Annukka (National Consumer Research Centre, 2012)
    This study discusses broad national sustainability programmes as multi-faceted and controversial hybrids. It concentrates on one pioneering case, the Finnish Programme to Promote Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) that was published in 2005. It is claimed that much-used effectiveness-focused analytical approaches fail to address some of the key characteristics of the Programme. Empirical analysis combined with a theory review reveals at least four different perspectives from which the Finnish SCP Programme can be fruitfully grasped, viewed and acted upon: the Bullet, Process, Ritual and Depiction perspectives. Together, these make up a multi-perspective analytical approach that outlines the programme profile and facilitates comparison of the differences between the acts, expectations and perceptions of various actors. (1) The Bullet perspective follows the traditional effectiveness approach based on the assumption that broad sustainability programmes have outputs and outcomes that are described in the programme document. (2) According to the Process perspective, the programme process has some effects but their exact form and direction cannot be predetermined due to the institutionally ambiguous context. (3) The Ritual perspective emphasises the symbolic dimension of action, and that the innermost meaning of programme making may go beyond its manifested goals. (4) Last but not least, the Depiction perspective reflects how the programme document and process construct, renew and silence some meaning structures, in this case about SCP. Analysed from these four perspectives, respectively, it turns out that Finland s SCP Programme: (1) has quite scarce outputs compared to the grand challenges and visions presented, the key ones including the establishment of a material-efficiency centre, a research programme and an initiative to green public procurement; (2) has raised awareness of SCP among major actors in the field, which has had various unprompted effects; (3) has had a strong ritual function in renewing Finnish participatory policy-making traditions and faith in the corporatist capabilities of meeting difficult challenges; and (4) reveals how key discursive conflicts in the field are related to contradictions between efficiency and sufficiency, economic growth and its opposing forces, and regulation versus the so-called new environmental policy instruments. Given their institutional ambiguity, sustainability programmes should be conducted in a more transparent and clearly externalised manner than is necessary in traditional Bullet-style programmes. The setting allows for creativity, flexibility and tailoring. However, neither the ambiguity of the programmes nor the availability of new policy instruments justify the outsourcing of policy-making to actors who do not possess the power or the ability to act on the challenges. Further, in order to find a balanced approach towards SCP, additional institutional support should be given to processes and experiments that develop the sufficiency and degrowth ideas. In its current form, criticism of growth only increases the uncertainty and complexity. This, in turn, supports the position of the dominant growth-bound policy narratives.