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Sufficiency Policy in Rural Communities

The research project analyzes how rural communities in Switzerland can adopt sufficiency policies and contribute to sustainable development. It examines the potential for sufficiency policies in rural communities, the factors that hinder and promote such policies, and how the federal government and cantons can support communities in developing and implementing sufficiency policies.

Background

Global production and consumption patterns are not sustainable because they exceed the Earth's ecological carrying capacity. Sufficiency strategies aim to change resource-intensive consumption and production patterns so that societal needs are met in a resource-conserving, local and socially responsible way. Although more and more people are starting to adopt sufficient lifestyles, the ability of individuals to drive the transformation to sustainability is still very limited since policies that promote sufficient lifestyles and encourage alternative modes of consumption and production are not in place. Sufficiency policies aim at resource-conserving and socially responsible consumption and production patterns of goods and services. They comprise both promotional and mandatory measures by the public sector.

Yet sufficiency policies are implemented only slowly, even in places where they would seem to be beneficial: in rural communities that face limited material and financial resources and thus have difficulties in ensuring the basic functions of life (housing, work, education, mobility, health, recreation). This project therefore examines the potential of sufficiency policies for rural communities in particular, where there is a demand for solutions that enable a good life despite scarce financial, material and social resources.

Research Goals and Methods
The aim is to analyze how rural communities implement sufficiency policies and how the federal government and the cantons can support them in this process. The methodological basis of this project is provided by standardized surveys and case studies in rural communities as well as interviews and focus groups with stakeholders from different political levels and socio-economic realms.