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December 2018
Greetings SCORAIer!

Please read on for invitations on how to strengthen sustainable consumption research and activism moving into the new year. 
Thank you for all your continued support and community, 

Darcy and Halina
Without You, There Is No SCORAI
SCORAI is a unique network run by volunteers, with now more than one thousand subscribers. We are a vibrant community that offers since 2008 high-quality exchanges on issues of sustainable consumption. Our activities include the listserv (Google Group mailing list) and a monthly newsletter, workshops and conferences, videos and publications, which are defining the field.

The six members of the SCORAI Board and others readily contribute their time and energy without compensation, but we still need financial resources to keep going. To maintain activities at the current level we need you to become a contributing SCORAI subscriber. We are asking for your contribution of US $50 ($25 for students, retired and others in special circumstances) to reach the goal of $8 000 in 2018. Of course, more generous donations are gratefully welcomed!

Or donate an amount of your choice (donations to SCORAI are facilitated by the Global Philanthropy Partnership).

Please take a few minutes to demonstrate your interest in and support for SCORAI as well as for sustainable consumption research, network formation, information dissemination, teaching, education, and communication. It is through these activities that we create new ideas and fruitful alliances.

We thank the generous donors who donated in the last few months. Donations are tax-deductible in the US and many other countries, so please donate before Jan 1, 2019. A thermometer on the SCORAI website 
keeps you informed how we are
approaching\our goal.

With collegial and sustainable regards,

The SCORAI Board: Philip, Deric, Maurie, Halina, Anders, and Daniel.


We are very pleased to welcome Dr. Daniel Fischer as a new member of the SCORAI board. Many of you have met him at the last SCORAI conference, or know his work. Daniel is an assistant professor at the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University. Before that, he worked for 10 years at Leuphana University in Germany in various positions. In his research and teaching, Daniel casts an educational perspective on the question of how sustainable consumption can be promoted through communication and learning. His recent research has examined the impact of communication and learning approaches like mindfulness, storytelling or citizen science. As a board member, Daniel will contribute in particular to the communication and education realms of SCORAI. Another of his aims is to strengthen SCORAI's presence in the Southwest through a series of activities and events in the next years.
Dr. Maurie Cohen, one of our Founding Board members, has taken a sabbatical from SCORAI activities till June 2019 after organizing the successful Copenhagen 2018 conference.
Good Life Goals: Write a Blog or Make a Video
A coalition led by Futerra, IGES, the WBCSD and others has developed the Good Life Goals  aiming to bring the SDGs closer to the average citizen. Please check out their video  in which they are being presented through emojis.

We like to invite you to write your personal experience with one of the GLGs in the form of a blog, a podcast, or a video, to be posted on the SCORAI website. That could be about GLG 12, but also about one of the others. For instance, GLG 11 states, among others: get to know your neighbors and welcome new people; and GLG 12: collect friends and experiences, not just things.
We hope you will mobilize your right brain hemisphere (to cite John Ehrenfeld’s excellent essay yesterday evening on the google group listserve) and surprise us with your creative ideas.

Send your contribution to Robert Orzanna  and Philip Vergragt .

Emerging Research on the Problems of Ever-Increasing Dwelling Size
by Sylvia Lorek
 In – so far uncoordinated – work various SCORAI scholars came up this year with research on limiting per capita dwelling space.

The problem is known for quite some time but not too much attention was given to it in the past decades. Over the summer various presentations and papers appeared e.g. by Inge Røpke and Charlotte Jensen at the SCORAI conference in Copenhagen, Maurie Cohen and Sylvia Lorek at the World Social Science Forum in Japan or Halina Brown at the Rethinking Energy Demand workshop in Japan. The unison tenor of the different studies is: per capita dwelling size has to shrink in most of our countries if we like to stay within planetary boundaries.

I like to invite you to keep the ball rolling. To my best knowledge the following publications are available online:

Sylvia Lorek
:Energy sufficiency through social innovation in housing
Anitra Nelson:Small is Necessary: Shared Living on a Shared Planet

and you may like to contact the colleagues for the following publications:

Brown, H. S. (2018). Reducing energy demand in the housing sector: smaller houses. Paper presented at the Rethinking Energy Demand: Discussion Workshop, Nara, Japan 25-27 September 2018.

Cohen, M. (2018). Sustainable Consumption and New Conceptions for Suficient Home Size. Paper presented at the World Social Science Forum, Fukuoka, Japan, 25-28 September 2018.

Lorek, Sylvia (2018). Identification of promising instruments and instrument mixes to promote energy sufficiency.EUFORIE - European Futures for Energy Efficiency. Deliverable 5.5. final version.

Røpke, I., & Jensen, C. L. (2018). Reducing the heated dwelling space in Denmark: A dynamic and challanging puzzle. Paper presented at the Third International Conference of the Sustainable Consumption Research
and Action Initiative Copenhagen, 27.-30. June 2018 (

In case you have own contributions or are interested in further research please let us know. Perhaps we can watch out together for common funding.

Featured Publications 
Gojard, S., & Véron, B. (2018). Shifts in provisioning routines: do holidays favour more local and seasonal food purchases? Environmental Sociology, 0(0), 1–11.

Changes in provisioning routines can trigger more sustainable food practices. Holiday periods, for instance, are paced by less constrained temporalities; often they are times when households travel and discover new shopping environments likely to prompt a shift towards the consumption of local and seasonal foods. However, the actualisation of such shifts relies primarily on social dispositions shaped throughout the life-course. Two case studies of women are compared to evidence how the slight differences between their social trajectories help to explain discrepancies between their food practices and the way they shop and cook during holidays. At a more general level, the objective of this article is to demonstrate how a practice-theoretical approach, with an attention to social trajectories of practitioners and to the context of performances, can help to understand under which conditions short-term transitions may lead to more sustainable consumption habits

 Lorek, S. and J. Spangenberg. (2018). “Energy Sufficiency Through Social Innovation in Housing.” Energy Policy 126:287-294

Experience shows that energy savings through energy efficiency measures are partly compensated by income growth, and partly by rebound effects. Therefore, to be effective, efficiency measures have to be embedded in a concept of sufficiency which strives for limits and absolute reduction of energy consumption. While the sufficiency concept is not new, it only recently gained attention in the field of housing. This paper provides a basis for broader and more informed debates in policy and research on the potential of sufficiency considerations to contribute to the overall reduction of energy consumption in the residential sector. It recommends shifting the attention from energy consumption of buildings towards a concept of sustainable homes in which e.g. the size of the living area plays a crucial role. A further important aspect is the possibility to fulfil other basic needs like the provision with food, recreation and social contacts in the nearby environment. The paper describes first examples of housing projects guided by sufficiency criteria, depicts the potential roles of different actor groups and points towards some general policy recommendations.

Available here:

van der Ven, H. 2018. Gatekeeper Power: Understanding the Influence of Lead Firms over Transnational Sustainability StandardsReview of International Political Economy (online first).
Abstract: Do retailers and supermarkets hold power over third-party transnational sustainability standards? If so, what is the nature of their power, when and how do they use it and to what ends? Using the counterintuitive case of Walmart’s efforts to improve the Best Aquaculture Practices standard for sustainable aquaculture, I develop a conceptualization of business power that flows from the position of retailers and supermarkets as lead firms within buyer-driven global value chains (GVCs). This position affords them considerable leverage over transnational sustainability standards (TSS) through their ability to act as ‘gatekeepers’ to their networks of suppliers, thereby controlling the degree to which sustainability standards gain market 
the literatures on GVCs, global production networks, transnational governance and business power in global governance to offer an initial framework for theorizing power dynamics between multinational corporations and the transnational standard setters that seek to govern them.
Bullock, G. and van der Ven, H. 2018. 
The Shadow of the Consumer: Analyzing the Importance of Consumers to the Uptake and Sophistication of Ratings, Certifications, and Eco-LabelsOrganization & Environment (online first).
Abstract: Why has the market uptake and sophistication of information-based environmental governance (IBEG) programs like eco-labeling increased despite mixed signals on the willingness and ability of individual consumers to support such programs? We argue that the extant literature on IBEG focuses too narrowly on individual consumer purchasing decisions to the exclusion of other mechanisms through which consumers, both as individuals and as an imagined collective, exert influence. As a corrective, we present a novel conceptual framework that highlights the different causal mechanisms through which consumers contribute to the uptake and sophistication of IBEG. We call our framework “the shadow of the consumer” since it suggests a more latent and indirect role for consumers than
voting-with-one’s-wallet. Our analysis adds nuance and complexity to accounts of consumer agency vis-à-vis environmental ratings, standards, certifications, and eco-labels and helps explain the proliferation and growing sophistication of such programs despite the variability of individual consumer support.
van der Ven, H., Rothacker, C. and Cashore, B. 2018. 
Do eco-labels prevent deforestation? Lessons from non-state market driven governance in the soy, palm oil, and cocoa sectorsGlobal Environmental Change 52: 141-151.
Abstract: In countries marked by the growing uptake of non-state market driven (NSMD) governance for agricultural commodities (i.e., eco-labels and certification systems), forested areas are steadily decreasing while
crop lands are growing. This deforestation continues despite NSMD rules aimed at prohibiting the conversion of forested land to agriculture. In this paper, we ask why the growing presence of NSMD governance has coincided with ongoing deforestation. While the seeming inability of NSMD governance to halt broader patterns of land use change can be partially explained by a lack of market uptake, there are also a range of other variables that may contribute to this relationship. We probe the plausibility of five hypotheses through comparative case studies of sustainable soy certification in Brazil, palm oil in Indonesia, and cocoa in Côte d’Ivoire. Our findings indicate that NSMD governance has neither abetted, nor hindered, the conversion of forested land to agricultural production. We find strong evidence that a lack of broad market uptake limits the effectiveness of NSMD governance. However, we also find evidence that regulatory loopholes in NSMD systems may explain the inability of eco-labels and certification systems to halt broader patterns of land use change in countries with comparatively strong market uptake. Our results highlight critical problems related to expanding the reach and stringency of NSMD governance alongside the ongoing fragmentation of global environmental governance. The study contributes to scholarship on the impacts and effectiveness of transnational environmental governance.
van der Ven, H. and Cashore, B. 2018. 
Forest Certification: The Challenge of Measuring ImpactsCurrent Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 32: 104-111.
Abstract: This article begins by situating forest certification within a broader set of forest governance institutions and innovations. It then examines how certification has been practiced to date, before investigating whether, when, and how it has achieved its intended impacts. Doing so reveals a number of gaps in existing knowledge that stem from narrow conceptualizations of impacts, limitations of available data, and epistemological challenges inherent to particular research designs. As a corrective, we propose a
three pronged approach to improving impacts research that involves collecting better data, expanding the indicators under observation, and affording a greater role to concept and theory building that draws on mixed-method research to highlight slow-moving, multi-level, historical processes that result in important, but often under-analyzed, impacts.


Upcoming Conferences

STS Conference Graz 2019, "Critical Issues in Science, Technology and Society Studies"
AUSTRIA, May 6-7, 2019


The conference provides a forum to discuss on a broad variety of topics in these fields – especially abstracts are encouraged which refer to aspects of the

We invite interested researchers in the areas of science, technology and society studies and sustainability studies to give presentations.

The STS Conference Graz 2019 is the joint Annual Conference of the Science Technology and Society Unit of the Institute of Interactive Systems and Data Science of the Technical University of Graz, the Inter-University Research Centre for Technology, Work and Culture (IFZ) and the Institute for Advanced Studies of Science, Technology and Society (IAS-STS).

For submitting your abstract, please use the
online form.

Submission Deadline:  January 21, 2019

Notification of selected abstracts: February 2019

For further details please visit:

4th international Global Research Forum on Sustainable Production and Consumption on “Transforming Production and Consumption: Bridging Sustainability Research with Policy and Practice.”

The Call for Contributions is now open!
We welcome Paper, Poster, Workstudio and Session proposals.
Deadline: 21 January 2018
This conference actively explores the following four themes for research and practice:
Theme #1: Asian Perspectives and Priorities in SCP
Theme #2: Imagining Sustainable Futures and Transforming Cultures
Theme #3: Sustainable Lifestyles and Livelihoods
Theme #4: Smart, Circular, Sustainable Urbanization

We are also exploring these themes through a number of cross-cutting topics: politics and democracy, civic engagement and knowledge transfer, gender, and social justice.
A full description of the conference can be found here:
The GRF conference is also an opportunity to interact with policymakers and practitioners including the SWITCH to Green Initiative.
We warmly welcome you to Hong Kong to strengthen the community of researchers and practitioners engaged in research on the worldwide transition to sustainable production and consumption systems.
Co-hosted by Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Dates: Wed 26 - Sat 29 June 2019 in Hong Kong.

Humanity sits at a crossroad between tragedy and transformation, with seemingly little idea of where we wish to go, or how we intend to get there. Similarly, now is a crucial time for sustainability research. Is it to be a passive chronicler of the challenges of our times? Or an active facilitator of transformative change towards sustainability?

This conference is inspired by the seminal essay by Donnella Meadows “Leverage Points Places to intervene in a system”. In this work, born of frustration and a deep desire for a more effective change, Meadows highlighted a series of leverage points—places in complex systems where a small shift may lead to fundamental changes in the system as a whole— for sustainability transformations. In particular, she noted the tendency to focus on highly tangible, but essentially weak leverage points (i.e., interventions that are easy to make, but have limited potential for transformative change).

Instead, she urged a focus on perhaps less obvious, but potentially far more powerful areas of intervention. Donnella Meadows’ notion of leverage points can be seen as a boundary object, a model, a metaphor and a fundamental challenge to the status quo, dominate mindsets and paradigms. We firmly believe that such radical approaches are needed in sustainability research and praxis if they are to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Inspired by Meadows’ work we seek to explore (in theory, methods and praxis) the deep leverage points that can lead to sustainability transformations. This conference will ask: how do we transform ourselves, our science, our institutions, our interventions and our societies for a better future? The conference is premised on three principles:

  1. The importance of searching for places where interventions can lead to transformative change.
  2. Open inquiry, exchange and co-learning across multiple theoretical, methodological and empirical research approaches focused on sustainability science and transformative change.
  3. The need to reflection on modes of research and processes of change in leverage point and sustainability transformation related research.
More information here:

The theme for the 2019 EUGEO Congress is ‘Re-Imagining Europe’s Future Society and Landscapes’ and we invite sessions on this theme (and beyond) from all areas of the Discipline.
The conference will take place at the National University of Ireland Galway from May 15th – 18th (inclusive) and will include a series of keynotes, networking and social events throughout the four-day period. Some highlights include a Welcome Reception on May 15th and conference dinner on May 17th. Galway is an ideal location for the Congress; a vibrant city, full of rich cultural heritage and a gateway to many sites of geographical significance (e.g. Connemara and the Burren). Further details are available on the conference website:
The conference will be chaired by Dr Frances Fahy and Dr Kathy Reilly (Geography, NUI Galway) and the theme reflects on the centrality of the concepts of society and landscape within the Discipline of Geography. EUGEO 2019 in conjunction with the 51st Conference of Irish Geographers will offer participants the opportunity to reflect on and re-imagine futures within the geographical boundary of Europe and beyond. We invite session proposals reflective of the over-arching theme with a view to attracting a wide variety of geographers with a range of interest and expertise representative of Geography’s diversity.

Informal queries relating to the submission of proposed sessions can be sent to and before Friday November 30th. We look forward to welcoming you all to Galway.


Waterlines: Confluence and Hope through Environmental Communication

June 17-21, 2019,
The 15th biennial Conference on Communication and Environment (COCE) University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

We are excited to have you join us in Vancouver, Canada for the 15th biennial Conference on Communication and Environment (COCE 2019). The conference will be held at the University of British Columbia (UBC) campus on the Point Grey headland, surrounded by forest and ocean, with views of the Coast Mountains and just 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver, all of which is part of the traditional unceded territory of the Musqueam people.

We have chosen communicating water - Waterlines - as the theme of the conference. Water connects with many environmental issues in the Pacific Northwest relating to energy production and distribution, land use, climate change, forestry, mining, development, and recreation. We think water is an under-researched area in the field of environmental communication and we are hoping to change that a bit.

The conference will bring together scholars, practitioners, artists, students and concerned citizens from around the world to share research, good practices, experience, and stories in order to help foster more effective, inspiring, ethical, and hopeful environmental and sustainability communication.

Conference Committee: Geo Takach (Chair), Alison Anderson, Richard Doherty, Darlene Farris-LaBar, Jen Good, Shane Gunster, Gabi Hadl, Mark Meisner, Hanna Morris, Mark Pedelty, Clive Tesar, and Fernanda Tomaselli.

Save the Date for the Club of Rome 50th Anniversary Conference, that will be held in Rome next 17th and 18th of October.

Registrations are open and the draft programme is already available.

The year 2018 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Club of Rome’s foundation. The Club’s million-fold bestselling first report “The Limits to Growth” has been followed by more than 40 subsequent reports, which have had deep impact on the emerging environmental movement and raised global awareness of the urgent need to rethink human activity on our planet in a more sustainable, climate neutral and eco-friendly way. The latest report “Come On! Capitalism, Short-termism, Population and the Destruction of the Planet” has been launched to coincide with the 50th Anniversary.  This report suggests a positive and realistic agenda for the future and states that we have sufficient knowledge to achieve the necessary sustainability transformation and preserve our natural environment, resources and living conditions. The anniversary events will culminate in a two-day conference in Rome.

I have some very exciting news to share that I trust will be of interest to many SCORAIers. I am leading the convening of the next Ecocity World Summit to be held in Vancouver, October 7-11, 2019 ( This is a biennial event that happens on a different continent and represents one of the world’s longest running and most influential conferences on building sustainable cities. The theme of the upcoming Summit is “Socially Just and Ecologically Sustainable Cities” based on the International Ecocity Standards ( that address many issues pertinent to sustainable modes of production and consumption. Specifically, the program committee would like to ensure that the conference provides a forum for conversations on sustainable lifestyles and behaviours.
This conference represents an opportunity to bring together a dynamic group of stakeholders, beyond the usual subjects. It links city building professionals (architects, planners, engineering) with ecologists and social scientists who are interested in tracking and managing the urban metabolism of cities to enable people to live within global ecological carrying capacity.
The call for papers and proposals opens in September (a year in advance of the conference) to provide groups plenty of time to put together thoughtful papers, workshops, fieldtrips, training activities, posters or presentations. The call closes in April. All accepted proposals will be confirmed by June. The Ecocity World Summit appeals to a mix of academics and practitioners.
Thanks for sharing with the community.
Sincerely, Jennie.

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