Values, resources and sustainable consumption

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CUSP/CEEDR Seminar with Dr Peter Bradley

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Values, resources and sustainable consumption—an institutional economics framework

Although policy actions are being taken by many governments around the world to meet urgent climate and sustainable development goals, the application of institutional economics—a school of economics that emphasises the importance of non-market factors (such as social and legal norms and rules) in influencing economic behaviour and activity—to the field is still in its infancy.

In the literature, there are a wide range of institutional economics frameworks deployed to explore aspects of sustainable development, but the majority focus on common pool resources or social ecological systems, often with priority to extractive parts of the economy—sidelining consumption and upstream provision choices that often drive the extraction.

The research Peter will be presenting in this joint CUSP/CEEDR seminar draws on literature, experiential knowledge and theory to construct an institutional economics framework that explores the scope of sustainable consumption and production for policy making.

To meaningfully counter the climate emergency, a thorough ‘cultural shift’ towards more sustainable consumption should be incentivised, new governance structures towards sustainable production (and consumption) should be put in place (for both markets and firms); alongside changes in the institutional environment (including law) to create an environment where sustainable production and consumption can flourish.


Peter Bradley is an Associate Professor at UWE Bristol, leading the Bristol Centre for Economics and Finance Sustainability Research Cluster. His research explores environmental and energy governance challenges using empirical evidence based research as well as conceptual and theory based research to bring about economies that embody greater levels of environmental sustainability at local and global levels. Peter is an editor for the Journal of Sustainable Production and Consumption and a topic editor for the journal Sustainability. During his PhD studies, he contributed to the research of one of CUSP's forerunner projects RESOLVE (2006-2011)—a five-year project that pioneered international research on sustainable lifestyles and provided robust social science evidence base for policymakers seeking to understand and to influence the behaviours and practices of ‘energy consumers’ in the light of climate change.


The seminar is free to attend. Please register your attendance to receive joining details and updates. For enquiries, please email

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We are an internationally leading research organisation core-funded by the UK's Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). It takes the form of a rich international network, drawing together expert partners from academic and non-academic institutions as co-producers of the work programme. The overall research question is: What can prosperity possibly mean in a world of environmental, social and economic limits?—We work with people, policy and business to address this question, developing pragmatic steps towards a shared and lasting prosperity. | Find us at

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