Working together for environmentally friendly consumption – how our lifestyles can protect biodiversity

Eine Konsumentin muss zwischen Supermarkt-Regalen eine Entscheidung treffen

Consumers around the world exert considerable pressure on biodiversity, endangering ecosystem services – the functions of nature that are vital to life on earth. Diets in particular play a critical role: the consumption of animal products can have very negative effects on the diversity of species and habitats due to the cultivation of animal feed on former tropical rainforest land, which is especially rich in terms of biodiversity. Other things like mobility, tourism and leisure, information and communication technology (ICT), and clothing also have negative consequences for the environment. It is clear that a change in our lifestyles and consumption patterns is imperative.

In order to drive this “change in consumption”, consumers and decision-makers from politics and business need sound information. Targeted, information-based communication is key, which is why the Consumer Information Program was established at the OnePlanetNetwork of the United Nations Environment Organization (UN Environment). This Program, however, has dealt with consumption and biodiversity issues only marginally.

A new, international working group is being set up as part of the research and development project “Working together for environmentally friendly consumption through information, communication and international cooperation,” funded by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN). Experts from politics, business and civil society will work together to develop a toolkit for communication, information and cooperation, and create information materials to raise awareness of the effects of consumption on biodiversity and ecosystem services. The working group will identify and prepare effective and easy-to-use strategies, campaigns and information formats. The results of this multi-year process will be disseminated internationally and across sectors in a jointly developed communication strategy.

Since the project is taking an international, cross-stakeholder approach and is linked to central processes for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda (especially SDG 12, sustainable consumption and production patterns), widespread dissemination of the results is inherent to the structure of the initiative. In this way, the project will make a major contribution to the mainstreaming of biodiversity in politics, business and among consumers. Consumers in particular will benefit, as their decisions and the associated positive or negative consequences for biodiversity will be more transparent, which makes them more comprehensible – individuals will be able to make informed decisions or work with other stakeholders to push for change in politics and business.

adelphi is leading the entire project and is responsible for setting up the international working group and its strategic direction. In this, the project team builds on adelphi's many years of experience in international stakeholder processes. adelphi is also leading the development of the toolkit and the creation of the information materials, as well as coordinating the collaboration with the working group participants. The think tank is also providing support for project partner Öko-Institut in the foundational analysis of consumption and biodiversity, in particular by closely examining the relevant discourse. adelphi also has a leading role in organising the international closing conference.