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Social Platform identifying Research and Policy needs for Sustainable Lifestyles

Final Report Summary - SPREAD (Social Platform identifying Research and Policy needs for Sustainable Lifestyles)

Executive summary:

The SPREAD sustainable lifestyles 2050 European Social Platform project aimed to address the current challenge of maintaining and improving quality of life of an ageing European society while at the same time reducing unsustainable lifestyle footprints – environmental and social impacts primarily related to energy use in the home, single car use dependency, overconsumption of meat and dairy, increasing material use for daily needs and related unhealthy lifestyle choices that lead to chronic disease.

Project activities:

SPREAD Sustainable Lifestyles 2050 has been a European social platform project running from January 2011 to December 2012. Different societal stakeholders – from business, research, policy, civil society, research, education, design and many others – have participated in the development of a vision for more sustainable living in 2050, and co-created pathways to get there, outlined in the EU Sustainable Lifestyles Roadmap and Action Plan 2012-2050 . The project has engaged over 1000 people directly, over 540 via its online platform and almost 1500 via external social platforms such as facebook.

Partners involved in the project:

The 24-month project was coordinated by the Collaborating Centre for Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP, Germany). The project partners are Demos Helsinki (Finland), Ashoka France (France), Ecoinstitut Barcelona (ECOI, Spain), the Energy research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN, The Netherlands), EuroHealthNet (Belgium), the International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics at Lund University (ULUND, Sweden), Politecnico di Milano (Polimi, Italy), the Northern Alliance for Sustainability (ANPED, Belgium) and the Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe (REC, Hungary).

Project context and objectives:

The project context

The concept of sustainable lifestyles refers to patterns of behaviour shaped by personal and social interactions and conditioned by environmental and socio-economic contexts that aim to improve well being and health of present and future generations. Sustainable ways of living embrace economic, social, technical, cultural, legal and environmental aspects at individual, local, national, EU and international levels. Sustainable lifestyles are linked to social innovation, given the crucial importance of bottom up inputs and creativity to change everyday behaviours. Research on sustainable lifestyles is a relatively new activity in the sustainable consumption and production domain. A comprehensive research agenda and policy strategy for promoting sustainable lifestyles is not included within the EU research agenda.

Project objectives

Project objectives were to:

1. Explore the conditions and complexities of shifting current lifestyles towards more sustainable ways of living by reviewing the current knowledge base and learning from existing promising cases.

2. Establish a communication platform for stakeholders to share and transfer knowledge on sustainable lifestyles in the fields of sustainable living, moving and consuming and on sustainable society at national, EU and global levels.

3. Integrate real world experiences through citizen inputs through a People's Forum that identifies (with interviews and focus groups of everyday citizens) the meaning of sustainable and healthy ways of living from the perspectives of different households in everyday life.

4. Analyse and assess current initiatives and promising sustainable living practice for mobility, consuming and healthy lifestyles and identify emerging and promising sustainable practices as well as identify context-specific barriers and drivers to the mainstreaming of current initiatives.

5. Visualise possible sustainable ways of living in 2050 through alternative future lifestyle scenarios, describe the implied social and behavioural innovations and develop recommendations for development of supporting infrastructure to achieve needed change.

6. Develop a roadmap of 'opportunity spaces' and action strategies for different actors in society and outline pathways to enable the shift to more sustainable ways of living by 2050.

7. Develop a research agenda that indicates areas for future work to fill current knowledge gaps between research, policy and practice to enable more sustainable lifestyles.

8. Actively disseminate the project results among relevant stakeholders, policymakers, CSOs and society at large.

Project results:

The overall strategy of the work plan used in the project

The SPREAD SUSTAINABLE LIFESTYLES 2050 EUROPEAN SOCIAL PLATFORM project addressed a gap in knowledge in the current research agenda and policy strategy on sustainable lifestyles as identified by the European Commission. The project consolidated existing theoretical knowledge, practical experience and best practices on sustainable ways of living. Barriers and drivers for more sustainable lifestyles were identified and a roadmap toward sustainable lifestyle scenarios in 2050 was developed using a back-casting methodology.

A main feature of the project has been the stakeholder dialogue and close participation organized within an online social platform, several thematic and cross-cutting working groups, a people's forum and an on-line platform facilitating broad engagement of various stakeholders during all stages of the project. The project aimed to maximise participation and engagement.

Main activities of the project

The SPREAD Sustainable Lifestyles 2050 European Social Platform project began in January 2011 and ended in December 2012. The project comprised in total nine work packages, each with a specific research focus. The approaches and the results of this work are presented below.

1. The baseline report


The objective of the baseline report was to provide a shared starting framework to understand sustainable lifestyles within the social platform and inform the research community, businesses and CSOs on current trends and practices. The Baseline Report on Sustainable Lifestyles aimed to collect state of the art knowledge on sustainable lifestyles and to take stock of existing and emerging promising practice aimed at steering lifestyles toward sustainability and equity. Aside from the general overview of trends, the report also outlined challenges and opportunities in the impact areas of living, mobility, consumption, as well as the areas of health and the ageing society.

Activities and research to meet these objectives:

First a preliminary baseline report was prepared, published and distributed in May 2011 among participants of the launch conference entitled 'The Future of Sustainable Lifestyles and Entrepreneurship'. The report was distributed in advance of the conference for number of reasons. These included the need to create a framework for discussing and understanding sustainable lifestyles, to provide background on current knowledge, experience and insights connected to sustainable consumption and lifestyles.

Results of the work:

- The full report entitled 'Sustainable Lifestyles: Today's Facts and Tomorrow's Trends' (158 pages) provides an overview of trends (e.g. urbanisation, digitalisation, act local think global) and demographic, economic, and technological developments likely to influence lifestyles and the future. It documents current unsustainable trends and the need for significant change to create sustainable lifestyles by 2050. The report also identifies a growing number of promising initiatives that aim to facilitate sustainability. An analysis of the existing knowledge base was made to come to an understanding of the factors that encourage and impede changes (i.e. barriers and drivers) towards more sustainable lifestyles in the four impact areas of consuming, living, moving, and health and society. For each of these areas, current trends, challenges, opportunities and existing promising practices with potential for large-scale implementation were discussed and presented. The analysis of the different domains pointed towards many cross cutting issues and promising synergies between sustainable mobility, consumption, living and health and well-being. In addition, the report examined enabling factors to upscale sustainable lifestyle initiatives using insights in the areas of behavioural change and the creation of enabling environments. The report provides an overview of key success factors as identified by research and practice to achieve enduring behavioural change. Lastly, the report collected policies relevant to sustainable lifestyles and the roadmaps that have been developed top date to support sustainability.

- 1000 executive summaries of the report have been printed and each consortium partner received 100 copies to disseminate. 320 full reports have been printed for dissemination by all consortium partners in their respective networks.

- First ideas from experts and consortium partners have been collected in a memorandum published in April 2011 as a preliminary contribution to the formulation of a new EC agenda in the area of social science research into sustainable lifestyles.

2. The social platform launch conference


The objectives of the two day social platform launch conference were to launch the Social Platform, and to enhance the visibility of the overall project and initiate the involvement of a broad set of stakeholders in a discussion on the findings of the baseline research. The four project working groups (mobility, consumption, living and sustainable society) were instructed to meet to introduce their respective topic, add promising practice examples and to build on stakeholder experience of barriers and drivers for change.

Activities and research to meet these objectives:

On May 24 and 25, 2011 the SPREAD Sustainable Lifestyles 2050 European Social Platform was launched at a historical venue in Hurth, Germany with the 'un-conference' event entitled 'The Future of Sustainable Lifestyles and Entrepreneurship'. This gathering aimed to facilitate new thinking, co-creation, networking and new partnerships to accelerate progress towards more sustainable ways of living. It placed innovation and entrepreneurship at the centre of the dialogue with the belief that radical new thinking will be required to directly address the current urgency for new solutions within new cultural and policy frameworks that will drive more sustainable lifestyles in the future.

Results of the work:

- Visibility of the project was enhanced through a successful and interactive launch of the European Social Platform on Sustainable Lifestyles in conjunction with the launch conference and workshop series I. On May 24 – 25, 2011 the SPREAD Sustainable Lifestyles 2050 European Social Platform project was launched at a historical venue in Hürth, Germany during the 'un-conference' 'Future of Sustainable Lifestyles and Entrepreneurship' event that attracted some 400 participants. The meeting placed innovation and entrepreneurship at the centre of the dialogue on the basis of the belief that radical new thinking will be required in the face of current urgent need for new solutions within new cultural and policy frameworks that will drive sustainable lifestyles in the future. Workshop discussions explored needed agendas for research, policy and action to promote, incubate and enable sustainable lifestyles and entrepreneurship. A marketplace, networking spaces, and match-making facilitated engagement with 'learning by doing' activities that demonstrated tangible impacts today to facilitate planning for the future.

- Some 400 participants with an interest in advancing sustainable lifestyles and entrepreneurship across Europe attended the launch conference, including experts, practitioners, and innovators from the research, policy, civil society, business, media, design, and arts communities.

- Working groups were launched on sustainable living, consuming, mobility, and health and society during the launch conference and workshop series I on May 24-25, 2011, held in Hürth, Germany. During the first project period, these working groups approached existing knowledge on sustainable lifestyles from the perspective of several different domains. This work contributed to the baseline report as well as to the workshop series I, II and III.

- The conference and workshop series I report was published on the online platform and project website in June 2011, and summarized the content of the discussions as well as the content of presentations.

- A European community network of practitioners for sustainable lifestyles entitled 'The European Social Platform on Sustainable Lifestyles' was successfully launched at the opening un-conference event. The network manifested itself not only in the SPREAD project activities but also in additional, spontaneous cooperation and exchange activities among members of the platform. This development demonstrated the success of the SPREAD Sustainable Lifestyles 2050 European Social Platform project in establishing a European community network of sustainable lifestyles practitioners from a variety of backgrounds.

3. Envisioning new sustainable lifestyles


The objectives were to organize series II of the workshops under the title 'Envisioning sustainable lifestyles and their enabling factors.' The four project working groups were involved in the delivery of the event, which was intended to identify promising practices and emerging cross-thematic visions of sustainable lifestyles. This work was highlighted in a policy brief on sustainable lifestyles that outlines barriers, drivers and the role of gatekeepers in fostering more sustainable ways of living.

Activities and research to meet these objectives:

This phase of work comprised online meetings and a live working group meeting (workshop series II) hosted by Politecnico Milano in Milan, Italy on September 22 and 23, 2011. These activities, and the lead up preparatory phase, enabled the project team to identify emerging cross-thematic visions of sustainable lifestyles in 2050. These visions were then used to inform the development of four future scenarios and as input to draft a policy brief on sustainable lifestyles that identifies barriers, drivers and the role of gatekeepers.

Results of the work:

- A rich collection of promising practices that are evident today and idea cards outlining how current sustainable living options might evolve in the future were developed and are available on the project website. This collection synthesizes the main concepts that emerged from the selected domains of sustainable living, mobility, consumption, health and society. The idea cards are a synthesis of a vast quantity of knowledge and inputs from earlier project work.

- Visual material presenting emerging best practices and emerging visions of sustainable lifestyles were prepared based on the vision generation workshop held in Milan in September of 2011. That workshop engaged 20 diverse experts from across Europe to discuss and create visions for 2050. Emerging practices and a selection of future visions for sustainable lifestyles were presented as possible sustainable living options that are not yet present in Europe to help imagine what today's promising practices could look like if projected into the future. This material informed the preparation of the 'Counting Backwards' workshop held in Helsinki in November of 2011.

- A policy brief on sustainable lifestyles was published in February 2012 and posted to the EC SSH website. This document presented preliminary project findings and outlined policy considerations based on a review of existing knowledge and examples of current promising practices. The policy brief presents four alternative and emerging visions of future sustainable lifestyles and explores the drivers, barriers and gatekeepers that may help or hinder the proliferation of more sustainable living options.

4. Future scenarios for new European social models


The objectives of this component of the project were to develop four future scenarios that offer a systemic view of different options for new European social models that encourage the combination of economically, socially and environmentally sustainable lifestyles in the year 2050. The scenarios should identify different pathways from the present day to the future of 2050 co-created through a back-casting method and illustrated timelines for each scenario.

Activities and research to meet these objectives:

In November 2011, a selective Delphi Survey was conducted among a cross-cutting group of relevant stakeholders. In total 41 people out of 110 invited respondents completed the survey. The Delphi survey questionnaire was formulated on the basis of emerging sustainable practises, distribution of costs and benefits, future limitations (such as emission targets, demographic developments), and megatrends (including urbanisation and digitalisation). The results of the survey informed the planning for the 'Counting backwards workshop' (see below).

A table depicting four alternative future landscapes of 2050 was developed based on all relevant knowledge gathered from previous research and from the input provided by experts and other stakeholders through the Delphi survey. The table was used to construct four alternative future scenarios that outline radical social and behavioural innovations. These landscapes acted as scenario end-points for the year 2050 during the workshop.

As a next step, the 'Counting backwards workshop' was held on November 24-25, 2011 in Tuusula, Finland. There, four alternative scenario paths from 2012 to 2050 were created with the help of 54 participants from 16 countries representing stakeholder groups from start-up businesses to governments, multinational companies, NGOs, researchers, entrepreneurs, designers and independent policy experts. These participants were divided into four groups and each defined an alternative scenario narrative on the development of sustainable lifestyles in Europe between 2012 and 2050. To this end, the back-casting method was applied: Each group was first confronted with one of the 2050 futures from which they worked out what 2040 needs to look like in order to enable these 2050 futures to materialize. After this step the groups were are asked to fulfil the same task for 2025 and 2015 until four timelines were created that connect 2050 to the present time. A special focus in the groups was placed on issues and drivers, such as necessary enabling infrastructure and behaviour change strategies that were highlighted as key factors in the SPREAD baseline report on sustainable lifestyles.

The second Delphi survey was developed on the basis of material collected during the first Delphi round and the results of the backcasting workshop. The aim of the second survey was to gather additional assumptions and arguments for each scenario. As during the first round, the second survey was distributed to a cross section of 50 experts around Europe. The respondents included experts that had participated the first Delphi survey round and experts that had not been involved in the earlier process. During this round, survey respondents were asked to provide comments on a theme related to their individual expertise.

Results of the work:

- A 'Counting backwards' workshop was organised to engage a diverse group of experts to envision and co-create alternative and even surprising futures. The SPREAD consortium received a large number of spontaneous positive comments from workshop participants following the event. The workshop expanded the horizon of thinking on sustainable lifestyles. Workshop participants will likely harness the scenarios that have been created in their work discussing and creating future strategies in Europe.

- A multi-stakeholder co-creation of four possible future scenarios for more sustainable ways of living in 2050 and the pathways to change from 2012-2050 were created using a back-casting methodology. Participants in the 'Counting backwards' workshop defined four alternative scenarios toward the development of sustainable lifestyles in Europe between 2012 and 2050. The scenarios included timelines with milestones at the years 2050, 2040, 2025 and 2015. The scenarios sketched out scenarios that were further advanced, finalised and then translated to a visual form by the project team.

- Four scenarios of sustainable lifestyles in 2050 were developed and presented in a visual form. The scenarios aim to demonstrate how various situational and behavioural factors contribute to the development of sustainable lifestyles. The scenarios enable an analysis of the potentials of current promising sustainable living practice in relation to a variety of factors while at the same time providing a starting point to identify opportunity spaces for the development of creative strategies to not only mainstream current sustainable practices, but also to develop new solutions for more sustainable living in European societies.

5. Roadmap and recommendations for different stakeholders towards sustainable lifestyles


The objectives of this stage of the project were to develop a European Roadmap for the transition to Sustainable Lifestyles 2012-2050, and also a list of short and long term policy recommendations for different stakeholders (public authorities, civil society, business and academia) through the use of future scenarios and involving a large number of expert stakeholders.

Activities and research to meet these objectives:

To develop the Sustainable Lifestyles Roadmap and Action Plan 2050 the project team first analysed the workshop outputs from WPs 1,3 and 4 to identify major themes and ideas on potential leverage points for social change. Additional study was also conducted to determine areas where existing EU policy would complement the Sustainable Lifestyle Roadmap. Furthermore the project organised 13 expert working groups with specific expert groups from across Europe to discuss opportunities and milestones for each point of leverage.

At the end of this process we detected 4 key enablers:
1) policy and governance,
2) economic and monetary systems,
3) social innovation and
4) individual behaviour change.

For these enablers the project team described the role and potential of the enabler, developments to overcome, identified a way forward and provided concrete policy recommendations. Together with the roadmap the team also outlined realistic and achievable timelines.

The final Conference on 'Catalyzing Action: EU Sustainable Lifestyles Roadmap and Action Plan to 2050' was held November 26-27, 2012 in Brussels. The first part of the conference where results of the SPREAD project were presented was held in the Flemish Parliament with over 150 attendees present. The audience was a mix of high level policymakers, NGOs, scientists, experts and public officers. Presentations from the SPREAD project partners were followed by discussion by an expert panel. After closing this part the conference, the audience proceeded to the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts (KVAB) for the second component of the conference. The second component focussed primarily on how to use the project results in concrete practices and to build commitment among audience members to make full use of the SPREAD project recommendations in their own work. To accomplish that goal nine workshops were organised over a day and half period. Three workshops also discussed enablers and six workshops were held on specific sustainable lifestyle topics.

Results of the work:

- The project successfully completed the EU Sustainable Lifestyles Roadmap and Action Plan 2050 entitled 'Pathways for enabling social innovation and behaviour change' (30 pages, pdf and 500 prints). The roadmap uses the various SPREAD project outputs to consider and quantify unsustainable impacts of current European Lifestyles and explores examples of promising and more sustainable living practices. The roadmap also classifies current thinking about lifestyles within four different future scenarios where current impacts have been overcome and proposes actions to take European society forward toward more sustainable living in this decade. This document outlines action strategies and opportunity spaces for policymakers to support sustainable lifestyles.

- Seven pathways or timelines provide an overview of short term 'must have's' and midterm milestones on the transition to sustainable lifestyles in 2050. The seven pathways are: Governance; Economy and New Money Systems; Social Innovation and Behaviour Change; Food; Mobility; Housing; and Health.

- A two day international and interactive conference closed the SPREAD program. All results were presented during the event to over 220 participants comprising policymakers, public administration representatives, experts, NGO's and scientists. During plenary sessions, parallel workshops, exhibitions, a theatre act and short videos were presented to provide opportunity for participants to learn, discuss and contribute commentary concerning the outcomes of the SPREAD project.

- A conference report (47 pages, pdf) was produced that included summaries of presentations, workshop reports, photos and list of participants.

6. The research agenda


The objective of WP6 was to formulate a research agenda that outlines future research needs to fill knowledge gaps on sustainable lifestyles within European social models.

Activities and research to meet these objectives:

The development of the research agenda was envisaged as follows:

1. To draft a memorandum to present preliminary WP 1 findings and input from online consultations (WP1). The purpose of the memorandum was to provide important ideas regarding the directions that future research on sustainable lifestyles could take.

2. To prepare a comprehensive research agenda based on the knowledge gathered in WPs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7.

During the first project period the memorandum was submitted to the EC in month 4 of the project (April 2011) as planned. The memorandum provided preliminary research ideas as an early contribution toward new research programmes in the area of social scientific research on sustainable lifestyles.

The SPREAD consortium and 14 external experts were consulted through an online Delphi survey to gather insights on research gaps, promising research areas and trends. The survey posed the following question of where respondents 'see the most important social-scientific research gaps related to sustainable lifestyles and societal challenges in Europe that should have priority in research programmes by the European Commission in the coming years?'

During a second survey round, project partners and external experts were asked to evaluate the relevance of each identified research topic and were also invited to provide feedback and commentary. All input that was received was used to develop the list of research gaps described in the April 2011 memorandum.

Future research topics identified in the memorandum can be clustered within ten themes:

- Definitions and evidence base

- Indicators and impacts

- Products, services and eco-labels

- Economics and business

- Policy and capacity

- Networks and partnerships

- Health, well-being and work-life balance

- Social, societal and behavioural change

- The potential of communities and social innovation

- Steps towards systemic change

Suggestions for future research reveal a high degree of interconnectedness between topics and a need for interdisciplinary research into sustainable lifestyles. The topics collected often suggest a need for sensitivity to contextual processes, for example, technological innovation or demographic changes that both shape and are shaped by changes toward more sustainable ways of living.

In addition, under this work package the consortium organised a workshop on sustainable lifestyles in the energy field, which took place at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium in June 27, 2011. 'The Future of Low-Energy Lifestyles' workshop brought together 30 expert representatives to discuss opportunities and challenges for future low-energy lifestyles. Particular focus areas during the workshop were local and EU policy, business and research representatives. The workshop was hosted by Claude Turmes, MEP, who pointed out the need for changes in lifestyles and new business models to accomplish a reduction in energy consumption. Speakers included Domenico Rosetti di Valdalbero from the European Commission's DG Research and Innovation and Helen Donoghue, Principal Administrator in the Strategy and Programming Unit of DG Energy, who presented the progress on the Energy Roadmap 2050.

Central themes discussed at the workshop included current (unsustainable) ways of living and the roles of policy, business and research in bringing about radical lifestyle changes. Values took centre-stage in small group and panel discussions. Recognising that there is no easy and straightforward answers, workshop participants collected and connected important research questions on, for example, the relationship between policy and values and the normative role of research and policy, with other much needed changes, which related to new business models and new ways of participation and new leadership.

On October 2, 2012, an EU strategy workshop was organized in Brussels to discuss the research agenda with relevant European policymakers. The project group received valuable input that was used to improve the content of the final research agenda report.

In November 2012 the final research agenda was published on the SPREAD website. The agenda discusses the following topics:

- Lifestyle trends and research needs

- Enablers of sustainable lifestyles: economic system

- Enablers of sustainable lifestyles: policy frameworks

- Enablers of sustainable lifestyles: infrastructure and spatial planning

- Enablers of sustainable lifestyles: information technology and social media

- Enablers of sustainable lifestyles: social institutions

- Enablers of sustainable lifestyles: collective actions

- Enablers of sustainable lifestyles: individual behaviour

- Governance processes towards sustainable lifestyles

Results of the work:

- First findings on directions for future social scientific research were summarised in a memorandum was published in April 2011.

- A SPREAD Newsletter on 'The Future of Low-Energy Lifestyles' (reporting on the respective workshop) was published online in July 2011.

- A Future Research Agenda for Sustainable Lifestyles was published in November 2012 under the title of Future Research Directions: Trends and Supporting Principles for Sustainable Lifestyles.

- An Executive Summary of the Future Research Agenda for Sustainable Lifestyles was published in November 2012 under the title of Future Research Directions: Trends and Supporting Principles for Sustainable Lifestyles (executive Summary)

7. The SPREAD People's Forum

Objectives and details for each task

The objectives of this component of the project were to bring a 'real-world' perspective to the project in the form of the reality that normal citizens face every day when striving toward sustainable lifestyle alternatives. This was accomplished by testing the relevance and resilience of the scenarios as well as by creating lifestyle-profiles for each of the participants.

Activities and research to meet these objectives:

In summer 2011 the SPREAD project gathered a total of 80 participants to take part in the People Forum (for marketing reasons called 'iFuture') between October 2011 and March 2012. Participants were drawn from Finland, Germany, Spain and Hungary. The participants were selected with a special focus on achieving a generational balance. To compensate for an expected drop-off of 25% in participation, each of the organisers recruited 20 participants to ensure that 15 participants attended as planned.

Between October and November 2011, Demos Helsinki built a footprint calculator in conjunction with D-Mat / Michael Lettenmeier specifically for the SPREAD project. Peoples Forum participants entered their individual data into the calculator with the help of a questionnaire that has been translated into each of the four relevant languages. The data collected was fed into the individual lifestyle profiles prepared in early 2012 and was used to identify different lifestyle types and value groups to lead toward a sustainable lifestyle in 2050.

A personal material footprint for each participant was calculated by analysing the data. Average footprints (Kg per person per year) in the countries in question were: Finland 26,000 kg, Germany 25,000 kg, Spain 26,000 kg and Hungary 22,000 kg. Based on the finding that 8,000 kg of annual material use is the sustainability threshold for European households (Lettenmeier 2011, based on Bringezu 2009) , these figures show that for the time being, people are not yet living sustainably. A large diversity of lifestyles between different people was identified. The lowest material footprint of all the participants was 8,500 kg/annum, which is slightly higher than the required sustainability threshold. The highest material footprint was 59,000 kg/annum, which would require a factor 8 decrease in order to be sustainable. On this basis, the project team made a projection of the material footprint for the year 2050, taking into account the current lifestyles and interests of the individual in question.

In December 2011, a questionnaire for the qualitative side of the iFuture lifestyle profiles was created. The questions aimed to identify two issues: 1) to gain an understanding of the general world view and values of the participants, and 2) to learn more about the participants' relationship to their lifestyle. The four SPREAD partners - Demos Helsinki, CSCP, Ecoinstitut Barcelona and REC - conducted personal telephone interviews in the respective country languages in December 2011 and early January 2012.

Based on the questionnaire and interview material from all four countries, a personal lifestyle profile was developed for each participant. These future profiles contain a description of participants' material footprint in 2011 as well as a projection of their material footprint and lifestyle in the year 2050. Each profile represents a unique combination of a participant's current values and actions as well as their reported values projected into the future to provide a vision of what might be important for that person in the future. Content for the profiles have been made as individual as possible, taking careful consideration the participants' personal interests and current lifestyle patterns. Participants' values drive critical decisions that affect lifestyle impacts and benefits.

The development of lifestyle profiles for participants provided early insights. For example, very often people's age seems to affect the size of their material footprint. Elderly people often occupy the same dwellings they used to live in when their children were small, leaving several rooms of their homes unused. People rarely saw that they, as individuals, could impact the footprint of their everyday mobility. Participants' felt that personal mobility decisions were pre-determined by existing infrastructure and the location of their workplace.

Results of the work:

- Insights into current lifestyles, including regional patterns, was gathered with the help of an individual footprint calculator developed for the SPREAD People Forum. Findings included the existence of four distinct groupings of households related to their lifestyles; the most significant regional lifestyle differences across Europe being related to the factors determining the largest components of the footprint (food, mobility, housing). To scale up sustainable lifestyles in the future tailored solutions for different events of life, aspirations, and values are needed. In this regard the SPREAD team found two key areas for future research: new housing solutions for the elderly; and services addressing both the need to travel to work, and even more importantly, for leisure time activities.

- Insights into the general world view and values of the People Forum's participants, as well as into the relationship to their consumption patterns, was gathered with the help of in-depth interviews. The lifestyle profiles that were prepared opened up a rich discussion about the abundance of possible solutions for a diversity of citizens to strive toward sustainable lifestyles in 2050. The visualization exercise of bringing 40-60 lifestyle tonnes to 7-10 tonnes was particularly effective and sparked a fruitful exchange of views in terms different paths for people to achieve a sustainable lifestyle.

- SPREAD scenarios on future sustainable lifestyles were evaluated and validated. The relevance and resilience of the scenarios and pathways was tested in a dialogue with households from representative segments across Europe. The sustainable lifestyles scenarios proved to be an excellent tool to carry out this analysis as they offered diverse pathways towards the future and serve people in different life stages with different values and preferences.

- 'iFuture - The Diversity of Sustainable Lifestyles' report was drafted. The document outlines the outcomes of the people's forum participants and provides insights into current and potential future lifestyles. The report also explores the real lives behind the footprints; the way these people live, move, eat, consume, spend their free time and why they spend it how they do; what they value; who are important to them; what motivates them and what holds them back; what they think about people around them and how they feel about change and the future.

Potential impact:

Final results and their potential impact and use

The SPREAD Sustainable Lifestyles 2050 European Social Platform project has made contributions toward the following far-reaching impacts, including:

A comprehensive understanding of current unsustainable lifestyle trends, challenges and opportunities related to sustainable forms of living was developed.

As summarized in the baseline report, the SPREAD Sustainable Lifestyles 2050 European Social Platform project presented information on current lifestyle impacts for the domains of consumption, housing, mobility, health and society, and documented international and European trends that will influence the way we live in the future.

Current European lifestyle impact 'hot spots' include:

- Together, final consumption of food and drink, private transportation and housing are the source of 70-80% of Europe's environmental impacts (Tukker and Huppes 2006).

- Meat and dairy consumption alone account for almost one quarter (24%) of all final consumption impacts – by far the largest share in the food and drink sector (Weidema et al. 2008).

- Domestic heating, water consumption, appliance and electronics account for 40% of Europe's total energy consumption (with space heating alone accounting for 67% of household energy consumption in the EU-27) (EEA 2010).

- Car ownership in the EU-27 increased by more than one third (35%) between 1990 and 2007 (EEA 2010). Over one third of the world's 750 million automobiles are owned by drivers in the EU (IEA 2010).

- In the EU-27, approximately 60% of adults and over 20% of school-age children are overweight or obese. Coronary heart disease (CHD), which is often associated with fatty foods and smoking remain the single most common cause of death in the EU (WHO 2011).

Based on this information, the following key messages for policy-makers, businesses, innovators, researchers and civil society actors were derived:

- A systemic, multi-sectoral, human-centred approach should be adopted when developing policies and strategies to enable more sustainable lifestyles. Approaches should include health, agriculture, education, finance, urban planning, social affairs and welfare, trade and transport, energy, environmental protection and climate change.

- A deeper understanding of individual lifestyle diversity is required to develop a broad range of solutions and options that support changing behaviour.

- Promising examples of more sustainable ways of living are already emerging. These examples need to be tested to understand how far they will take toward sustainability and to identify critical gaps that remain.

- Health and equity aspects should be an integral part of all measures and initiatives relating to climate change and sustainability.

The SPREAD Sustainable Lifestyles research agenda identified research gaps in terms of content and methodology, which will be used as an input for future research funding programs by the European Commission. In terms of methodology, the gaps include, among others, the following suggestions:

- Promoting sustainable lifestyles requires research and innovation to compile in-depth knowledge about solutions that connect individual and collective behavioural change to understand how change can be facilitated by innovative technologies, infrastructures, institutional settings, policies and education. This requires both empirical studies and theoretical work.

- A trans-disciplinary approach – integrating different types of knowledge, e.g. scientific, experimental, tacit and practical – is likely to help arrive at solutions that are both grounded in a robust conceptual understanding and that are useable in practice.

An understanding of promising sustainable lifestyle practices and the mainstreaming potential was collected and developed.

A comprehensive collection of promising practices leading to sustainable forms of living was compiled via the online community, during several events and through research. The quantity and diversity of innovative initiatives and activities that were identified demonstrates that many viable solutions are already available. Of particular note are collaborative consumption initiatives, urban gardening, smart mobility concepts, and comprehensive city planning.

To make this knowledge useful in educational settings the project developed the following tools:

- Promising practice cards: A selection of promising sustainable lifestyle practices that can be seen today (examples of lifestyle practices that address current unsustainable lifestyle patterns) were synthesized from an extensive collection of promising practices drawn from across Europe;

- Idea cards: A selection of 52 idea cards that provide ideas about how current sustainable living options might evolve in the future were developed. The ideas profiled o the cards were developed on the basis of the most original concepts and promising sustainable living practices identified in Europe today. The promising practices have then been projected into the future in order to attempt to envision what more sustainable living might look like in 2050.

- Sustainable lifestyle visions: The SPREAD consortium partners together with 20 European experts created four emerging visions of sustainable lifestyles for 2050. Short films based on these promising practices were also produced.

A European social platform with global components was established to enable interaction and exchange among actors from different countries. The platform provided opportunities for dialogue, debate and collaboration on issues related to sustainable lifestyles among stakeholders from civil society, research, business and policy.

The establishment of the SPREAD online community and the project's Facebook page, in combination with the various face-to-face project activities enabled an intensive dialogue among different stakeholder groups, experts, practitioners and everyday people interested in the topic. Of significant interest during many of these conversations were concrete activities that would enable more sustainable lifestyles, the concepts and experiences with implementation. This knowledge exchange has established an important basis for upscaling and duplication of the identified practices.

The following budding but potentially significant ideas provide a snapshot of what was discussed and what was taken forward within the social platform:

- Visualisation techniques are already helping us to imagine what more sustainable living could look like

- Entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs bring a fresh spirit and added value to the voice of business on this agenda

- Future generations have important insights for more sustainable living, today

- Current trends in terms of networks and communities have important implications for future infrastructure needs

- 21st Century techno-lifestyles have new, intrinsic and game-changing relationships with society and social innovation

The impacts of the workshops were as follows:

- 'Real world' citizens (the iFuture participants) gained an understanding of the connections between aspirations and ideas about the transition from the 'good life' to sustainable futures.

- The results of the workshops and the material footprint tool were communicated to the broader public (beyond iFuture participants) through the SPREAD online platform and a personal footprint calculator.

- 'Real world' reactions and comments on the future scenarios were tested.

- A variety of motives and values were tested with regard to how they affect people's everyday choices and behaviour today and also when they strive to live I more sustainable ways.

The personal sustainable lifestyles material footprint calculator that was developed for the SPREAD project provides individuals an opportunity to easily calculate their current material footprint in kilograms and to compare their material impact against a sustainable material footprint level, which has been defined as 8000 kg/person/year for the year 2050.

Opportunity spaces, must have and action strategies for societal actors on sustainable lifestyles were developed to move swiftly toward actions that will get Europe on track toward sustainable ways of living in this decade.

The SPREAD project identified policy and governance; the economy and the monetary system; and social innovation and individual behaviour change as key sustainable living enablers. The EU Sustainable Lifestyles Roadmap and Action Plan charts pathways toward change in these key enabling domains.

Highlights of policy recommendations from the EU Sustainable Lifestyles Roadmap:

Policy and governance pathway timeline

2012-2015: Policy-making becomes systemic, human-centred and participatory to support citizens in their efforts to choose a more sustainable way of living. This could include the establishment of an ombudsperson for 'protecting the future and future generations'.

2015-2020: Regulatory frameworks are in place in all EU countries that create incentives for sustainable living and sufficiency in production and consumption. 8000kg sustainable lifestyle footprint targets become a practical and legal reality.

2020-2025: Transparency and continuous improvements in sustainable living through improved policy assessment tools and (external) audits become commonplace. Personal resource use quota cards are launched.

2025-2050: National and EU policies demonstrate the effectiveness of the sustainable lifestyle footprint, equity and well-being targets globally, which boosts world-wide competitiveness and creates a leading role of the Euro-zone.

Economy and monetary system pathway timeline

2012-2015: Economic policy supports alternative economic models, complementary currencies and new business models that support sustainable living. A Sustainable Monetary Systems Commission is created.

2015-2020: Sustainable investment into essential infrastructure, products and services that enable sustainable living are promoted and incentives are created through supporting (legal) frameworks.

2020-2025: Transition from debt-based economies to commons based economies that force economic activities to occur within planetary boundaries.

2025-2050: Complementary currencies and inclusive economic models are legally recognized across the Euro-zone, accelerating the pace of change and stimulating innovation for sustainable living.

Social innovation and behavior change timeline

2012-2015: Promising and proactive shifts toward more sustainable lifestyles begin by way of social innovation and citizen movements that result in policy reforms at the level of communities and cities. Governments promote more participatory approaches to policy-making and budget decisions.

2015-2020: Smart information communications and technology (ICT) advancements accelerate social innovation and behaviour change for sustainable living. These changes include transformations in both formal and informal education to focus on skills for the sustainable societies of the future.

2020-2025: Transitions from ownership to access to satisfy needs, goods and services supports new ways of living at the household, community and city levels. There will be more balance in work and personal lives.

2025-2050: Sustainable living bears fruit as households realize benefits, which encourages new thinking and actions for societal organization. Big shopping malls are repurposed into community centres. Global Footprint Overshoot day is December 31.

Four SPREAD scenarios of possible sustainable lifestyles futures can be used to inspire new thinking, to anticipate and enable change towards sustainable living of the future.

The SPREAD Sustainable Lifestyles 2050 European Social Platform project used a scenario methodology to explore the diverse ways for potential lifestyle patterns to evolve, and how this evolution can overcome current harmful environmental and social lifestyle impacts. The sustainable lifestyle scenarios are stories of possible futures where societies support more sustainable ways of living. The scenarios present different options for sustainable living choices that will suit the diverse needs, desires and cultural considerations of citizens from across Europe. The four scenarios present differing pathways to reach alternative societies where sustainable ways of living are supported.

Singular super champions

Europe has made the leap to a new type of sustainable, competitive and equitable economy through radical market reforms. Sustainability has become the business opportunity of the century. This is a society that celebrates an ethos of learning, achieving and self-mastery.

Governing the commons

A new digital reality helps people to break free from many cultural constraints to reach sustainability. Ubiquitous computing enables the smart use of resources and, redirects people's behaviour from material consumption to abandon many institutions of the 20th century, liberate themselves to live more meaningful lives driven by new collaborations.

Local loops

Society has re-evaluated its ideas of well-being and resource systems are organized through 'local loops'. People build their lifestyles around their work, while technology is focused on local design solutions. A new ethos of craftsmanship and professional communities shape the way people live, organize their work and spend their leisure time.

Empathetic communities

The failure of the global economy leads to new forms of collaboration and governance grows at the level of cities and towns making them the most powerful level of public decision-making. The many fruits of global advancements are enjoyed, although people in general focus on communicating and developing solutions at the local level.

Dissemination activities and exploitation of results

Dissemination activities comprised the following methods: Internet, Produced materials, Events, Networking and Press work.


The project consortium set up a web-page (see online) to support project communication activities. The page features information on the project and interaction possibilities, and was updated with event outlines and summaries throughout the course of the project. The website displays the summaries of all publications prepared as part the project and features a wide variety of links to external information sources and organisations. The project consortium engaged in extensive e-marketing activities to identify mailing lists and discussion groups to promote the website. The technical website implementation was subcontracted to an external service provider; the day-to-day management was with the CSCP.


The project produced the following materials:

Project leaflet

An attractive leaflet was prepared in hard copy and electronic format to provide information about the project and its activities. Each partner has received copies to distribute in different regions and occasions.

Baseline report on sustainable lifestyles 'Sustainable Lifestyles: Today's Facts and Tomorrow's Trends'

The final version of the baseline report entitled 'Sustainable lifestyles: Today's facts and tomorrow's trends' provides a synthesis of research, leading policy and practice, and stakeholder views on potential pathways toward sustainable lifestyles. The purpose of the report is to provide the necessary background information to support the SPREAD social platform participants in creating a holistic vision of sustainable lifestyles in 2050 and recommendations for a plan of action.

Conference and workshop series I report of June 2011, summarizing the content of the discussions as well as the content of presentations held.

The report presented the content of the SPREAD launch conference. The event covered a number of different themes, shared the visions of many experts and inspired participants with a variety of different initiatives. The report provides an overview of topics discussed during the event and summarized lessons learned.

Summary of preliminary findings on directions and focus areas for future social scientific research, published as a Memorandum in April 2011.

First policy brief, summarizing the project's preliminary findings

This document presents SPREAD project preliminary findings. It provides policy considerations from the review of existing knowledge and examples of current promising practice. It presents four alternative and emerging visions of future sustainable lifestyles, and explores the drivers, barriers and gatekeepers that may help or hinder the proliferation of more sustainable living options. A final policy brief was delivered at the conclusion of the project in December 2012 that included concrete policy recommendations.

Scenarios for sustainable lifestyles 2050: From global champions to local loops

The nicely visualised scenarios highlight four different options for more sustainable ways of living in the year 2050. The scenarios provide a starting point to identify opportunity spaces to develop creative strategies not only to mainstream current practice but also to develop new solutions for more sustainable living societies.

Short movies on promising practices and scenarios

A set of short movies was prepared to outline different existing promising practices that demonstrate how sustainable lifestyles can be enabled. The four scenarios for different societies where sustainable living is the norm are brought to life in the short movies.

EU Sustainable lifestyles roadmap and action plan 2050

The roadmap uses the various outputs of the SPREAD project and extensive stakeholder input from 13 workshops to propose actions that will get Europe on track toward more sustainable living in this decade. Recommended actions include social innovation, products, service and business model innovation, skills for jobs of the future, policy and governance. The document outlines the action strategies and opportunity spaces for policymakers.

Policy brief presenting the Roadmap for sustainable lifestyles in 2050

The policy brief provides easy access for policymakers to the content of the EU Sustainable Lifestyles Roadmap and Action Plan 2050. It demonstrates pathways to reach sustainable lifestyles in 2050 and gives recommendations on the role of policy in this process.

Final research agenda

The research agenda presents the most important topics for future research on sustainable lifestyles and related methodologies. It aims to support EU research policymakers in the formulation of future research programmes that address societal challenges to sustainable lifestyles and that support the EU 2020 Strategy. In addition, the research agenda provides a clear overview of themes and topics that can be taken up in further research.

iFuture – The Diversity of sustainable lifestyles

The document outlines the outcomes of the people's forum events that were held in Finland, Spain, Hungary, Germany and online with participants from across Europe. It provides insights into participants current and potential future lifestyles and explores the real lives behind the footprints: the way these people live, move, eat, consume, spend their free time and why they do it the way they do.

European lifestyles: The future issue

The Future Issue is your guide to redefining the good life and enabling the future you want. The magazine summarizes all outcomes of the SPREAD Sustainable Lifestyles 2050 European Social Platform project. The issue takes you on a journey to the future and seeks to inspire the change agent in all of us. Readers learn about current unsustainable trends and where change is already happening today. Readers can also see how everyday people can change their material footprint and live a sustainable life in 2050.

Conference report summarizing the findings of the final conference.

The report summarizes the content and findings of the project's closing conference held in Brussels on November 26 and 27, 2012. Summaries of keynote speeches, workshops and key messages provide an overview of topics discussed and the discussions that took place.

All items are available online


Interactivity was a key principle in the delivery of the numerous events organised by the SPREAD Sustainable Lifestyles 2050 European Social Platform project. Events that were hosted include:

- The SPREAD project and European Social Platform on Sustainable Lifestyles was launched as an 'un-conference' on May 24-25, 2011 in Hürth, Germany under the title 'The Future of Sustainable Lifestyles and Entrepreneurship.' The event attracted nearly 400 participants. The conference also launched the project working groups on lifestyle impact themes of sustainable living, consuming, moving and health and society.

- EU Policy Workshop in Brussels entitled 'The Future of Low-Energy Lifestyles', held on June 27, 2011.

- Workshop to envision the potential for new sustainable lifestyles and enabling factors, held in Milan, Italy on September 22-23, 2011.

- The 'Counting backwards' scenario building and back-casting workshop on November 23-24, 2011, that engaged scenario and futures experts to envision and co-create alternative sustainable lifestyle futures.

- Four face to face and one online workshop were held as part of the People's Forum 'iFuture'. Workshops were held in Finland, Germany, Spain and Hungary involving 80 individuals from the four countries.

- 13 expert workshops were held during different conferences with participants that included policymakers, economic experts, health experts, designers, students and journalists from Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Finland, Belgium and Brazil. The expert workshops were used to generate inputs for the roadmap.

- A side event was hosted at Rio+20 in June, 2012 where the four future scenarios were presented to an international audience.

- EU Policy Workshops were hosted on October 2, 2012, to present the findings of the research agenda.

- A final project conference that attracted over 220 participants was held in Brussels in November 2013 to present all project outcomes with a special focus on activating the SPREAD roadmap and generating action from different stakeholders.

As part of the implementation of the SPREAD project dissemination and advocacy strategy, the project approached and has been approached by organisers of several high profile events at the national and international level to provide information about the social platform and its activities. The aim of the consortium is twofold: (1) to SPREAD information about the platform and (2) to obtain input and feedback.


By making use of the project website and online platform the consortium maximised networking activities to disseminate project outcomes and foster discussions about sustainable lifestyles. In addition to these instruments, the project also used dissemination channels of project partners. These include the respective partner websites such as; newsletters such as ANPED's 'The SWITCH', the external e-newsletter 'Health Highlights' and the Eurohealthnet internal newsletter 'Health Action Memo'. Linkages were created with other Social Platforms such as the and EU Climate Action to foster discussion of project results at external international and national events.

The SPREAD social platform successfully brought together citizens and stakeholders from a wide variety of sectors and geographical regions to discuss ideas related to the vision of a more sustainable way of living today and in the future. The total number of individuals involved in face-to-face project meetings is estimated to be over 2000.

Additional networking activities resulted in obtaining input from the European Parliament's Intergroup on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development by the SPREAD partner Eurohealthnet. The following three areas were suggested as potential focus areas for close examination:

- linkages between sustainable production methods in the food system while also ensuring access and availably to healthy food;

- alternative forms of transportation to reduce emissions and environmental degradation while contributing to health and wellbeing;

- the role of the built environment and its impact on health outcomes.

Press and media:

In February 2012, the project team circulated press releases in EN, DE, NL and ES to promote the release of the baseline report. Following the press release, ECN was interviewed by Dutch radio. The story about the report was also published in Catalan on the website under the translated title Sustainable lifestyles: between the individuality of day by day and the strategy. The story was also published online in English, in German on the 'Umweltdialog website' as well as receiving news coverage on 18 January 2013 on the German WDR5 radio station.

List of websites: