Sustainable Consumption: Eco(nomical)?

This project is supported by our academic partner Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) in Mannheim and the researcher Christiane Reif.


The Paris Climate Agreement stipulates greater engagement of civil society. This involvement is a precondition for transforming the current lifestyle of society into a more sustainable way of living so that the ambitious climate goals can be reached. Apart from climate protection, the United Nations define other “Sustainable Development Goals“(SDGs) which also include sustainable consumption and sustainable production. The implementation of these goals within the European Union (EU) was introduced in November 2016. Based on the SDGs, Germany has also recently published an updated version of its sustainable development strategy.



The interrelations of civil society, economy and politics play a significant role for sustainable consumption and sustainable production. Not only are economy and society affected by the laws issued via politics (top-down), but vice versa civil society can also influence politics and economy (bottom-up). Elections, public petitions and protests demonstrate the political significance of civil society. Aside from the interaction of politics and society, consumption and production influence each other as offer and demand on the market. For example, the demand for sustainable goods may lead to a more extensive offer of these products and could also incentivize innovation. This kind of market solutions may contribute to a cost efficient design of sustainable development strategies.



Sustainable development strategies enshrine ecological and social goals, however, it often remains unclear how these goals can be achieved cost-efficiently. An economic approach may be just right to make a wider public support sustainable consumption and sustainable production and thereby enable a transformation of society in the first place.



But what does sustainable consumption actually mean? Is sustainable consumption economically acceptable or is it linked to growth deficits? Do we need to do without or can we combine sustainable with economic goals? How can we ensure that ecological and social goals are reached efficiently?



The team of the ZBW Leibniz Information Center for Economics gathered a selection of related literature on this list. You can search for more information and literature at Econbiz. We also put together some more tips for researching (in German).

YES! Team


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The topic “Sustainable Consumption: Eco(nomical)? – Making Consumption and Production Sustainable and Efficient” can be selected by YES!  teams from the region South-West as a YES! 2017 topic.


This topic has been chosen by the YES! team of the Friedrich-List-Schule Mannheim. Learn more about the YES! 2017 Team of the Friedrich-List-Schule Mannheim and visit their profile page.

Academic Partner


Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung GmbH (ZEW)

The project “Sustainable Consumption: Eco(nomical)? – Making Consumption and Production Sustainable and Efficient” was proposed by researchers of the Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) in Mannheim. The YES!-teams are supported by the researcher Christiane Reif.

Joint Project of

The YES! – Young Economic Summit is a joint project of the  ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics and the Joachim Herz Stiftung in Hamburg.


The ZBW is the world’s largest information centre for economic literature and excellently positioned to help students gain information literacy and provide relevant resources.


The Joachim Herz Stiftung is economically independent and politically neutral. The foundation has a wide experience in developing ideas and implementing projects for young people, in particular on economic education.

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Laura Bickel
Project Manager
t: +49 (0) 431 8814 359

Portrait Kai Meinke

Kai Meinke
Project Manager
t: +49 (0) 431 8814 643

Photo credits (top to bottom): (c) / petovarga, (c) Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung GmbH (ZEW) Mannheim, (c) / petovarga, (c) ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft, (c) Joachim Herz Stiftung.