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Co-designing workshops on sustainable consumption and production in Southeast Asia: application of idea cards and structuring methods

  • Published on February 4, 2022

Ensuring sustainable consumption and production (SCP) patterns is an important task for achieving Sustainable Development Goal 12 by 2030. To facilitate international and domestic collaboration toward regional SCP, we developed a collaborative workshop method to generate and structure ideas about consumption and production (CP) patterns and employed the procedures for emerging Southeast Asian countries at workshops in Japan and Thailand. The main focus was on Bangkok, and the goal was to identify the implications of SCP policies.

The structuring of seventeen SCP patterns chosen from 525 CP patterns generated at the workshops helped to identify the important influential factors, policy interventions, and features of probable SCP patterns.

The main conclusions were the following: (1) The viewpoints of consumers and providers are important for idea generation. The products and services, as well as the systems of CP patterns, should be targeted; (2) Transition, improvement of the quality of life, and digitalization are also key directions of SCP patterns in Bangkok; (3) Culture, infrastructure, and industry are major considerations for regional SCP policy; and (4) SCP policy instruments are broader than conventional environmental policy instruments, and expanding the scope of SCP policy should be discussed more widely, especially in Asian countries.

The authors developed a workshop methodology to identify SCP patterns and employed it at two workshops that were held in Japan and Thailand and mainly targeted Bangkok. The events generated ideas for 525 CP patterns, and seventeen of them were then structured to extract relevant elements (i.e., goals of the society, 170 local factors, and 293 policy instruments). The method we developed consisted of constrained idea generation and structuring and this approach was found to be useful for stimulating SCP dialogues involving workshop participants with different backgrounds.

The development of this workshop can be used as a tool to promote stakeholders' collaboration and active engagement when developing SCP policies. As illustrated and recognized by the authors, collaboration between stakeholders will be necessary to establish effective SCP policies and envision a working SCP future. Among emerging Asian economies, as countries like Thailand started to recognize SCP as a goal and integrate SCP into their mainstream policy, a concrete approach for collaboration on SCP policy in those countries should be realized and developed as well. The collaborative workshop then presents an option for countries to engage different consumers, producers, and all other stakeholders in co-generating ideas for SCP patterns and possible policy interventions. It provides a framework to which policymakers can refer for facilitating dialogues on SCP and more importantly, closing the gap between the actual and the expected SCP policies.

In addition to providing a means for collaboration on SCP, this paper also emphasizes the benefits of a participatory approach towards SCP. The workshops, which invited a wide range of stakeholders, have generated more than 500 ideas about SCP patterns and identified nearly 300 policy interventions. The workshops were held in Japan and Thailand with participants from both countries, so the workshop offered an international perspective on SCP through international stakeholder collaboration. Meanwhile, the participants would also have to discuss local characteristics associated with SCP patterns. This has resulted in an interesting, yet powerful outcome, as both local and international perspectives of SCP patterns and policies, were addressed. 

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