In January 1994 a symposium was held in Oslo on the invitation of Gro Harlem Brundtland and Torbjom Bemtsen. The theme of the symposimn was "Sustainable Consumption" and among the participants were some heads of state and government and several ministers of environment.
Behind the theme of the meeting was the analytical outcome of the UNCED summit in Rio de Janeiro summarized in the sentence:
Environmental degradation in the world has two principal roots: Poverty in the south and unsustainable consumption patterns of the rich, predominantly in the north.
The Oslo symposium identified a number of issues and presented thought-provoking and amusing examples of anti-consumerism advertising. The outcome was reported to the CSD (Commission for Sustainable Development) meeting in May 1994. The ideas were endorsed and OECD countries in general and the Nordic ones in particular, were encouraged to proceed with the initiative. Consequently another Oslo meeting will take place in February 1995 with the aim of identifying key actors in the field of sustainable consumption and propose a plan for action.
As a preparatory step for the second Oslo symposium, the Nordic Ministerial Counsil decided in June 1994 to support a seminar on the subject of "Instruments to Promote Sustainable Patterns of Consumption and Production" where past eyperience and current thinking on the subject in the Nordic countries should be presented and discussed.
The outcome of this seminar, held in Stockholm in December 1994, is presented in two volumes. This one in English containes e.g. special studies that were made for the seminar by Nordic researchers.
The other volume, in nordic languages, contains reports ofthe practical experience in the Nordic countries of such instruments as laws and regulations, economic and informative tools and propaganda with the aim of changng attitudes and preferences.
In both volumes there is a summary report of the entire seminar. In presenting the outcome of the Stockholm seminar it is the hope that the experiences gained hitherto in the Nordic countries, and the current thinking on the subject of instruments to promote sustainable patterns of consumption and production will help in the efforts that lay ahead. There clearly seems to be common lessons to be learned from practical success and failure and from a geminal understanding of the inherent propeties of the instruments.
At the same time it is very clear that the task ahead, to reach sustainability, it is huge compared to what has been done. More of the same with regard to instruments hitherto practiced, may not suffice. Something fundamentally new might be required.
Stockholm January 1995.