The advancement of public transport and waste prevention through socially conscious shopping - these are two of the recommendations that over a hundred Austrian citizens have recently formulated as a result of the PACITA citizens forum on sustainability and consumption. Two of the participants had the opportunity to deliver the results of the forum to Federal Minister for Agriculture and Environment Andrae Rupprechter.
Together they discussed issues such as raising awareness in schools and innovative mobility concepts. Finally, the overall results of the forum, which was organized by the ITA (Institute of Technology Assessment), were presented. For the next few years the ministry plans to increase cooperation with the ITA on the subject.
"In an Austria worth living environmental and socially responsible products should have priority. To change our behavior as consumers, it is equally important that we take concrete steps in our everyday lives", stressed Rupprechter during the visit, clearly impressed by the breadth of the discussions. "I see it as my political duty to take the worries and concerns, but also the suggestions and good ideas of citizens seriously," says the minister.
The two guests, Elfried Hitzinger and Gerhard Seidl, are convinced that it takes awareness: "I see it in the children: If we do not educate them to save water and energy, they will not do it," says Hitzinger. For Gerhard Seidl, mobility is a particular concern: "I think a lot of people outside of metroplitan areas would be willing to switch to public transport or car sharing. But for that to happen we need tax incentives such as lower tariffs, and an appropriate infrastructure. "
Also attending were ITA representatives Michael Nentwich and Leo Capari. The Forum "Europe Wide Views on Sustainable Consumption" was held in Austria as well as ten other European countries. Behind the event is the EU project PACITA, which stands for Parliaments and Civil Society in Technology Assessment. The aim was to collect the views of citizens on socially relevant issues such as resource scarcity, food waste or climate change, and to make recommendations for the national and EU policy-makers.
Austrians eager to become environmentally conscious consumers
The Austrian results of the citizens consultation clearly show that for most participants, socially responsible and environmentally conscious consumption is a very real concern: 70 percent regard the securing of natural resources as essential. When shopping, 64 percent claim to choose healthy foods, however, the price also plays an important role. 78 percent believe that for real change it takes individual efforts. Perhaps the most surprising result for the whole of Europe: 90 percent of all participants in all eleven countries were willing to reduce their personal consumption voluntarily.