SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit

Sustainable Lifestyles, Livelihoods and the Circular Economy

University of Sussex, 27-29 June 2017
Third International Conference of the Global Research Forum (GRF) on Sustainable Production and Consumption
Co-hosted by SPRU and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) 


Titled 'Sustainable Lifestyles, Livelihoods and the Circular Economy', GRF’s conference explores paths to sustainable production and consumption through the synergies and tensions among the circular economy, sustainable lifestyles and livelihoods, and their implications for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The “circular economy” is proposed as a key business and policy strategy for sustainable development, gaining traction in both the industrialized and developing world.

Premised on the recognition that linear economies are unsustainable on a finite planet, the concept of a circular economy proposes a restorative and regenerative economic system, using renewable resources, optimizing resource use and recovery, and supporting sustainable livelihoods and lifestyles. Policymakers are increasingly seeing the circular economy as a way to create jobs and increase prosperity in the face of rising natural resource costs and companies are incorporating the concept into their business models and practices. The circular economy could offer a genuine win-win: improving the quality of life while reducing environmental degradation, a key aspiration of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

However, critical engagement with the concept and practice raises several questions about the opportunities and challenges in transitions to a circular economy. GRF’s third international conference convenes stakeholders from multiple domains - researchers, development practitioners, policy makers and representatives from business, government and civil society - to explore some of key questions and debates on the circular economy and their implications for lifestyles and livelihoods in both industrialized and developing countries, including:

  • How can the circular economy produce more decent work opportunities in developing countries and help in the fight against poverty? Under what circumstances could it displace informal sector economic activities, exacerbating poverty and precarity?
  • In what ways can circular economies produce sustainable lifestyles and livelihoods or possibly perpetuate unsustainable consumption patterns in the industrialized world?
  • Where does the circular economy stand in relation to different economic paradigms (e.g., continuing growth, steady-state, de-growth)?
  • How might a circular economy and the rise of sustainable lifestyles and livelihoods shift power relations between corporations, citizen- consumers and the State? In what ways could this shift democratize control over resources and decision-making or consolidate corporate power?


Keynote speakers include:

  • Janez Potočnik, former EU Environment Commissioner, Co-Chair of the International Resource Panel
  • Ashish Chaturvedi, Head of Climate Change, GIZ India
  • Jacqueline Cramer, former Dutch Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment, Chair Sustainability and Innovation, Utrecht University
  • Joss Blériot, Executive Officer, Head of Editorial and Public Affairs, Ellen MacArthur Foundation
  • Barbara Muraca, Oregon State University


The full programme is now available to download (PDF) from the GRF website.

Please note: the programme will be available in digital format only, to minimise paper use.


Registration has now closed.

Web streaming


The conference welcome and opening keynote will be streamed online via Facebook Live - Tuesday 27 June 2017 (09.00-10.00)

Original call for contributions

Contributions may take the following forms: 

1. Session proposals, deadline 1 November 2016 

2. Individual papers & posters, deadline EXTENDED: now 15 December 2016

3. Special Work Studios, deadline 1 November 2016

Please visit the GRF Conference webpage or download the Call for Contributions for further information. 

Individual paper abstracts need to be submitted via ProposalSpace. Session and studio proposals should be emailed to grfspc2017@gmail.com.

Co-organizers: Tearfund UKSWITCH-Asia ProgrammeSCORAI EuropeCollaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP)Aalborg University and the MORE SL program under the 10 Year Framework Programme on Sustainable Lifestyles and Education

Contributing Partners include Earth System Governance ProjectWorld Resources ForumFuture Earth Knowledge-Action Network on Systems of Sustainable Consumption and  Production