Friday, September 18, 2009

Policy approach for Sustainable lifestyle

Today, Humanity uses over a third more resources than what nature can regenerate; the ecological deficit is widening. Levels of per capita consumption of developed world are considered unsustainable and inequitable. On the other hand million of people are dying due to hunger. And pressures on global resources are increasing from the emerging middle classes in developing countries, who aspire for consumer lifestyles of the west. In developing countries like India people are blindly following the life-style of west. They aspire to attain various lifestyles which are more or less consumer centric. People in rural area aspire to live the life of town and people of town aspire for Metro lifestyle.
Shifting behaviours in Developed and Emerging world to more sustainable lifestyles is proving difficult. Today a consumer’s choices are not isolated actions of rational decision-making Rather they are embedded in individual ideas about status and identity, influenced by contextual social forces, such as the media and advertising, and subject to larger structural features of the economy, environment, and policy. Policies, whether economic, environmental, or social, affect consumer choices. Moral suasion is most commonly used to motivate social change.
Moral suasion or social policy instruments currently used to support a shift in attitudes and behaviours fall into three groups:
1.     Information- To fill a perceived public information deficit on causes and consequences of environmental change and actions that individuals can take. Information instruments provide an “information wrap” around products (e.g., labels, environmental product profiles, standards) to influence consumer choice.
2.     social marketing/mass communications- encourage positive behaviour change by applying marketing principles to target audience interventions, usually involving mass media (e.g., energy conservation programs, recycling programs, and so forth)
3.     Education- support the inclusion of relevant content in teaching curricula at all levels of the formal education system. They also support non-formal processes to increase knowledge and understanding.

Economic signals usually equate a better quality of life with economic growth. But, is this an only criterion for better life? How about the social and moral quality? Better quality of life with ecosystems destroyed! Today people are starting to realise “Better Happy than Rich”.So there is an urgent need to take into consideration the changing lifestyles following different development trajectories of people belonging to the various classified settlement.This is time that we should think about the changing present development indicator (which are mainly based on consumption) to better suit the humanity and whole eco-system. Providing the livelihood security should not be at the cost of environment so there is need for Superimposition of livelihood security with the environment friendly methods and approaches.
By setting people on the course of making decisions that are right for sustainable development, many problems can be solved or avoided. The social instruments currently in place related to sustainable development are scattered, vary widely in terms of their intended audience, and often lack integration and long-term commitment.
Mechanisms to stimulate cleaner production, the polluter pays principle, are matters tried by policy maker but nobody had yet tries the Life-style issue in public policy making (Influencing consumer demand).Combinations of tools are needed and must work in concert. Information access, new technologies and supportive regulatory measures are required to make this planet sustainable. Rather than projecting environment as moral obligation or value system we should project this as a way to innovate. Citizens are less willing to take voluntary action unless they see positive examples set by government and, in particular, by business. Social instruments should lead to mutual change in preference to individual change; responses to instruments should be collective not just individual.

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