The Consumer Role for Sustainable Development: How Consumers Contribute Sustainable Development Goals

The Consumer Role for Sustainable Development: How Consumers Contribute Sustainable Development Goals

Seda Yildirim (Tekirdag Namık Kemal University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3115-0.ch018
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The term sustainable consumption is not only a behavior type in marketing and a just consumption behavior, it is more than this. Sustainable or responsible consumption behavior can change the world. Sustainable consumption concept has been investigated widely in the literature and factors that effecting sustainable consumption or being a green consumer has been investigated recently, too. But the relationship between sustainable development and consumer behavior isn't investigated sufficiently. After 2030 Sustainable Development Goals set up, responsibilities and roles have been an important issue to achieve sustainable development in the long term. In this point, this study aims to investigate the consumer role for sustainable development goals through sustainable consumption patterns and trends.
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Sustainable development approach forces world leaders to make a balance between economic, social and environmental elements when achieving economic development. Both of developed and developing countries have been aware of climate change, global warming, environmental pollution and fast exhaustion of natural resources for a long time (Yıldırım, 2016). Current economic models, current production and consumption patterns should be change into green economic approach, green production technologies and sustainable consumption patterns to leave more habitable world for the next generation. Accordingly, it can be said that the rise of sustainable consumption is mostly related with sustainable development term. After the United Nations determined the importance of environmental sustainability and warned the world about limited natural resources, economies understood that they were on the wrong scent. The history of sustainable development began in 1960s but 2000s gave life to sustainability. In 1962, Rachel Carson explained the relationship between toxicology, ecology and epidemiology in her book and said that maintaining human health and animal species were all based on clear agricultural methods (International Institute for Sustainable Development, 2012). Then year of 1972 brought two main events for sustainable development. Club of Rome published Limits to Growth and presented a report for the impacts of economic development on natural environment. UN Conference on the Human Environment was held in Stockholm by 1972 and UNEP was established. It can be said that sustainable development gained its international recognition in 1972 (Sustainable Development Commission, n.d.). The Brundtland Report defined the term of sustainable development formally and introduced this term to the whole world in 1987 (Klarin, 2018). By the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (1992), fist action plans and strategies were set for sustainable development. UN Conference on Environment and Development (1992) which was called as the Earth Summit, provided “the Rio Declaration, the Forest Principles, Agenda 21, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Framework Convention on Climate Change” as basic outcomes (Whitfield, 2015). In 2012, UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) set first sustainable development goals that were called as the Millennium Development Goals (Sustainable Development Goals Knowledge Platform, n.d.). The Millennium Development Goals were transformed into 2030 Sustainable Development Goals by the UN Sustainable Development Summit in 2015. Today, the world aims to achieve 2030 Sustainable Development Goals till 2030. The brief history of sustainable development shows that the world has begun to change into sustainable world by governmental and institutional partnerships (Yıldırım and Yıldırım, 2020).

Households and individuals are worried about the future because of the increased environmental issues and problems (Bostancı and Yıldırım, 2020). Transforming consumption patterns and also production system have become one of the most important change movements to achieve sustainable development. Sustainable consumption and production take strength from each other. Sustainable production is based on green marketing approach. Green marketing approach aims to protect environment when producing goods and services to meet consumer needs and wants. So, consumers can find eco-friendly products in the market easily (Yeng and Yazdanifard, 2015). Although buying green products involves half of the sustainable consumption, buying second hand products or reducing consumption are also important patterns in sustainable consumption. Excessive consumption causes many negative environmental and psychological outcomes that responsible consumers prefer to buy green products or they keep other sustainable consumption patterns (Jastrzebska, 2017). The Commission on Sustainable Development formally set the term of sustainable consumption as a consumption type as the usage of services and related products which respond to basic needs and bring a better quality of life while minimizing the usage of natural resources and toxic materials as well as the emissions of waste and pollutants over the life cycle so as not to jeopardize the needs of future generations (Allaway,2012).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Sustainable Development: A development model that aims to achieve economic development through protecting natural environment and keeping social welfare.

Green Consumer: A consumer that is sensitive for protection environment when he/she makes a buying decision.

Green Product: A product type that is less harmful for the environment.

Sustainable Production: Enterprises keeps environmentally-friendly production technologies to protect natural environment and use efficient energy and natural resources at the same time.

Consumption Pattern: A model that presenting one type of consumption.

2030 Sustainable Development Goals: Seventeen sustainable goals that are expected to be achieved by 2030.

Consumption: The usage of products and services to meet needs or wants.

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