Session IIa Summary: Production and Consumption Systems
Chair: Harrie van Bommel, Saxion University of Professional Education, The Netherlands. Rapporteur: Wilbert Grevers, University of Twente.
In this session, the issue of sustainable development was addressed using a system perspective at various levels, from a micro (firm) to a macro (societal) level. As overarching themes ‘accounting for intangibles’ and ‘innovative policy instruments’ might apply. The presentation by Jan Piet illustrated how supply chain management can address social impacts effectively, if the whole life cycle of a product is taken into account. A related approach was presented by Oksana Mont, following the current developments in marketing where companies sell services rather than products (Product Service Systems). At the level of national accounting, a Net National Product, if extended with appropriate accounting prices for non-market goods, could serve as an indicator for sustainable development for a whole country, as was shown by Robert Cairns. In conjunction with concepts for comprehensive accounting, possible policy instruments and tools were identified. Peter Hofman suggested how scenarios could foster creativity, by making people aware of the complexity of the system. Tsjalle van der Burg proposed ‘proxy voting institutions’ as a means of representation for improving the impact of votes of small shareholders on sustainable development policies at large enterprises. Finally, Arne Remmen stressed the usefulness of bringing actors together and stakeholder participation, shifting from single instruments to broader regulatory issues and from government to governance. Of course, the distinction between accounting and policy instruments was less strict in the presentations than summarised here. Accounting systems need to be operationalised and policy instruments, if not data, at least need conceptual frameworks. For an overall assessment, many presentations referred to the importance of actor networks and system innovations. In general, while the concept of sustainable development becoming more abstract and integrative, on one hand it can be better understood, implementation though, still faces many challenges.

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7:00 AM-5:00 PM, Thursday, 28 April 2005, Oral

The Netherlands 2005 Meeting