What kind of a public policy will advance and even incentivize a sustainable lifestyle? What are the barriers to achieving such a policy? These were the key questions of the session organized by the Science and Technology Major Group and Future Earth.
The session recognized that decoupling economic growth from resource use is not enough for achieving sustainability as long as absolute resource use will not decrease. Furthermore, a systemic change enabling the reduction of consumption can most effectively be achieved through a bottom up participatory approach, driven by action, new narratives, and changes in social norms.
There is also a need for policy that allows investment in sustainable options and includes penalties for high-impact practices. The session further underlined the importance of sustainability education. Schools have targets defined by national governments and are expected to meet,the demands of society, such as training a new workforce.
However, education often maintains the status quo instead of challenging it. Transforming educational systems to encourage critical thinking and sustainable lifestyles necessitates more than curricula reform. It is an all-encompassing process that should involve activities such as group learning, school council discussions, active recycling on campus, maintenance of wildlife reserves, and sustainable practice laboratories.