Supporting Sustainable Behaviour by Citizen’s Participation in Group Activities

Dietrich Albert, Michael A. Bedek, Gunnar Binda, Alexander Nussbaumer, Erich Weichselgartner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paperpeer-review


For at least 50 years, citizens have been promised measures aimed at curbing climate change, introducing a circular economy, and promoting sustainable consumption and production. However, there is lack of concrete political actions of governments and parliaments to stop the real threats of climate change. Appeals to governments to finally deliver on the promises of top-down measures have been noted but, despite the official announcements of governments worldwide no real effect is in sight. On the other hand, newer technological developments (digitization, networking, communication software) in the sense of bottom-up make it possible to rethink and reshape citizens' participation in ways that would have been considered impossible not long ago. They are already being used in a participatory way and could in the future be a useful complement to so-called 'representative democracy' and help to influence the reflections and actions of all stakeholders, including the citizens themselves, in the direction of sustainability and the circular economy. Of course, the effective use of
these social and technical possibilities requires the fundamental willingness of
stakeholders and potential addressees to allow participation to go beyond the current extent. Of the methods and procedures currently in use, (a) one participation method is currently favoured in Europe (Germany, Ireland, UK, etc.) and will be considered in more detail: Randomly and representatively composed small groups develop topic-and problem-centred proposals for activities and actions to be implemented by citizens, authorities, or other stakeholders. We will discuss ways of optimizing this participation
process. Especially, as an alternative and complement, (b) the output-, action-, and impact-oriented participation of citizens in digital councils for solving problems will be considered. We recommend, to combine both the methods (a) and (b) for reaching 20th European Round Table on Sustainable Consumption and Production Graz, September 8 – 10, 2021sustainable actions which are acceptable for citizens. However, for optimizing the citizen driven problem-solving process further research is necessary. Thus, we define appropriate research questions. Furthermore, it will be discussed how an important overarching goal of citizens' participation can be achieved, namely, to involve 'the citizens' in the development and design of future participation projects, technology and communication structure in a transparent, effective, and environmentally friendly way
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 20th European Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production
EditorsHans Schnitzer, Sybille Braunegg
Place of PublicationGraz
PublisherVerlag der Technischen Universität Graz
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-85125-842-4
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • participation
  • Group Activities
  • Digitalization
  • Behaviour Change
  • Sustainable Actions

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