Consumer Insights Needed to Optimize Sustainibility

Jun 26, 2024

At the World Congress, the “Route to Paris” project was showcased, shedding new light on the potential of Swedish forests to significantly contribute to global climate targets as outlined in the Paris Agreement. This initiative examines how Sweden’s extensive forests can aid in achieving these ambitious climate objectives.

The world faces a major challenge in limiting the effect of climate change. A growing population will require sustainably produced consumer products, efficient consumption practices, and reduced dependence on fossil fuels. Forests are expected to play a crucial role in this green transition.

The interdisciplinary project “Route to Paris” aims to investigate and develop the potential of Swedish forests to contribute to a climate-neutral society. More specifically, the goal is to implement climate-smart measures within the framework of sustainable forestry to achieve the Paris Agreement targets. The project explores how forests can both ensure a high carbon sink and support society’s green transition.

During a presentation titled “Trends in Forestry and Consumption,” two leading researchers in the project, Associate Professor Janina Priebe from Umeå University and Professor Karin M. Ekström from the Swedish School of Textiles at the University of Borås, highlighted key findings and insights.

Janina Priebe, an expert in the history of science and ideas, emphasized the historical focus of Swedish forestry and the need to pivot towards future-oriented strategies. “Forestry in Sweden tends to be all about history. We don’t have enough focus on tomorrow,” Priebe remarked. “My role as a researcher is to understand how people relate to the forest and also to wood products. It’s crucial to complement the production perspective and the societal perspective with a consumer and consumption perspective.”

Priebe’s insights underscore the importance of integrating historical understanding with contemporary consumer behavior to forge pathways that are both sustainable and socially acceptable. By bridging the gap between production and consumption, the project aims to foster a holistic approach to forestry management.

Karin M. Ekström, a professor of marketing, highlighted the necessity of incorporating consumer insights into the forestry sector to meet climate goals. “The production perspective must be complemented by the consumption perspective,” Ekström stated. “Knowing more about consumer insights and demands in a historical perspective helps us achieve Sweden’s climate goal, as specified in the Paris Agreement.”

Ekström elaborated on her research focus, noting, “My specific part in this project involves looking at past transitions in the forestry sector to draw lessons from history. We examine transitions in the 1950s and the 1990s to understand how the forest sector and society around it have evolved. These insights help us inform the current transition towards climate-smart forestry.”

“Route to Paris” involves a comprehensive review of existing knowledge to establish a solid interdisciplinary platform for the project. By analyzing past societal transformations and integrating various forms of knowledge, the project aims to provide decision support for the forestry sector to achieve the necessary societal transformation. By creating a dialogue platform, “Route to Paris” seeks to engage forest owners and the surrounding society in discussions on how forests can help combat climate change and meet climate goals.