Radical innovation needed for more sustainable consumption and production

Outcomes from the Economic and Social Research Council’s Sustainable Technologies Programme, which investigates the development and adoption of sustainable technologies, will be presented at a conference today at London Canal Museum.

With climate change and environmental issues regularly at the top of both news and political agendas, the Sustainable Technologies Programme offers us an insight into how our consumption habits, production systems and energy use can be made more environmentally sustainable. The programme has also focused on the policy changes needed in order to encourage more sustainable behaviour.

Director of the Sustainable Technologies Programme, Professor Fred Steward, commented that: "Our research shows that radical innovation is needed for environmental sustainability embracing a blend of technological and social change. We urgently need policy innovations to fill the gap between public investment in technological research and efforts to influence social behaviour through, for example, green taxes."

Themes covered by the research programme and featured in the report, Catalysing Innovation for Sustainability, to be launched at the conference include:

  • How can sustainable technologies, for example microgeneration, be made mainstream"

  • What influences consumer decisions – do people choose sustainable lifestyles"

  • How can sustainable consumption be made normal"

  • What is needed to make current food production and consumption systems more sustainable"

  • How can waste be dealt with more sustainably"

"Bridges need to be built between producers and consumers through wider public engagement in order to nurture more sustainable behaviours and production systems," comments Professor Steward.

"A successful and timely shift to a low carbon, low waste society needs radical innovation to allow society to adapt to a more sustainable pathway."



ESRC Press Office
Annika Howard Tel: 01793 413119, e-mail: [email protected]


  1. Professor Fred Steward is the Director of the ESRC Sustainable Technologies programme and is Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at BRESE (Brunel Research in Enterprise, Innovation, Sustainability and Ethics) at Brunel University Business School, Uxbridge.

  2. The Sustainable Technologies Programme is a major research initiative by the UK Economic and Social Research Council. It aims to fund innovative and policy-relevant research on the social and economic processes that shape, foster or inhibit more sustainable technologies. The Programme is also an integral part of the UK Sustainable Technologies Initiative. For further details visit the Programme website at www.sustainabletechnologies.ac.uk

  3. The Sustainable Technologies Programme conference is being held on Monday 4th December 2006 at the London Canal Museum, 12 – 13 New Wharf Road, London, N1 9RT

  4. The ESRC is the UK's largest funding agency for research and postgraduate training relating to social and economic issues. It provides independent, high quality, relevant research to business, the public sector and Government. The ESRC’s planned total expenditure in 2006/7 is £169 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and research policy institutes. More at http://www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk

  5. ESRC Society Today offers free access to a broad range of social science research and presents it in a way that makes it easy to navigate and saves users valuable time. As well as bringing together all ESRC-funded research (formerly accessible via the Regard website) and key online resources such as the Social Science Information Gateway and the UK Data Archive, non-ESRC resources are included, for example the Office for National Statistics. The portal provides access to early findings and research summaries, as well as full texts and original datasets through integrated search facilities. More at http://www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk

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