Sustainable Production and Consumption

Sustainable production and consumption are essential keys to sustainable development. The biophysical boundaries set the framework for the world's production system and consumption patterns. The world needs be climate neutral by 2050 to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. In the same year, the world's population is estimated to reach 10 billion, two billion more than today. Population growth will primarily take place in low-income countries where new generations of consumers strive to raise their standard of living. At the same time, it is the high-income countries that, through their consumption, contribute to a significant environmental impact. All in all, the production of goods, food and energy must become resource-efficient and take people and the environment into account at all levels - while changing consumer behavior is crucial for a sustainable future.

About the Program

Within the program area Sustainable production and consumption, Axfoundation develops practical solutions to global and local sustainability challenges in various industries. Together with actors in the entire value chain, we tackle social and environmental issues to drive producers, trading companies and customers towards sustainable business models and behaviors. The ambition is to inspire change, spread good examples and drive initiatives that have a transformative potential. Traceability is a  thread that runs through the entire program.

Axfoundation develops practical solutions for sustainable production and consumption.

Axfoundation develops practical solutions for sustainable production and consumption.

We empower small-scale rice farmers in Pakistan, half women and half men. Photo: Oxfam

We empower small-scale rice farmers in Pakistan, half women and half men. Photo: Oxfam

Social sustainability in the production chain

Through digital training efforts and local programs in different countries, we strengthen employees’ awareness of their rights and obligations. The efforts are capacity-building with the goal that workers and growers will have their rights satisfied and have a salary or income to live on. We involve both companies, suppliers, and civil society organizations in that work. Migrant workers, women in agriculture and small-scale farmers are particularly vulnerable, so we have specifically targeted them. Axfoundation is the founder of and has the role of chairman of ETI Sweden, a multi-stakeholder initiative for improved working conditions in global supply chains.

Environmental and climate considerations in the production chain

The ecological footprint of global production must be reduced, and this requires collaborations. In some of our ventures the entire value chain is involved, in other initiatives we bring together actors in the same industry. Use of water and chemicals, climate impact and conservation of biological diversity are areas we focus on. Axfoundation is also active in the Risk Crops Platform which includes soy and palm oil. Common to our solutions is that they can be scaled up – we believe in the power of example and are happy to share solutions and lessons learned.

A free online training course to reduce greenhouse gas emissions where they are greatest. Foto: iStock

A free online training course to reduce greenhouse gas emissions where they are greatest. Foto: iStock

Re:solve, an underlying solution behind digital product passports.

Re:solve, an underlying solution behind digital product passports.

Traceability and transparency

Products that are unsustainably manufactured should not be put on the market or placed on the store shelf. But today we know quite a bit about the production chain, likewise we rarely know if the product is circular or contains recyclable parts. If we increase the ability to trace a product from ear to loaf, or from factory to store shelf, the possibility of sustainable consumption choices increases. There are several initiatives underway to increase traceability and Axfoundation is contributing to a collaboration around digital product passport infrastructure.

Sustainable business models

Sustainable development requires changed business models that are based on consideration for the environment, people and animals, resource efficiency and circular economy. Producers and retailers have both a responsibility and an opportunity to offer a sustainable range and through various interventions guide the customer towards sustainable choices. Politics also plays an important role here, as does industry cooperation and common incentives. It can also be about rearranging the internal organization so that sustainability is rewarded in purchasing and marketing. Axfoundation works for a transition to sustainable business models in various industries, with the aim that this is reflected in the customer basket.

The sustainable shopping basket - how is it created and by whom?

The sustainable shopping basket – how is it created and by whom?

Changed consumer behaviours

Many consumers say they want to shop sustainably, but in practice it is not as clear. Behavioral changes can take time and often it is the wallet and the habit that control the hand. So, what is the key to changing consumer behaviour? Which trigger points and interventions are central to effectively steering towards sustainable consumption? To find keys to changing customer habits, Axfoundation involves researchers and experts, companies, and the customers themselves. We investigate policy instruments and attitudes and develop new ways of communicating important knowledge that can lead to changed behaviour.

Which means of control do today’s consumers in Sweden think are acceptable? Read our report (in Swedish).

Results

In Axfoundation’s Progress Report – Act to inspire & inspire to act – we share an extract of successful results from the program, but also examples of times when things didn’t go quite as planned. Because to innovate sustainable solutions and achieve transformative change, we need to have courage to fail.

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