Transforming Cultures

Consumerism has become one of the most dominant cultural traits in western society. The drive for consuming more and more goods has an impact on human cultures as well as Earth’s ecosystems. Left unaddressed, we risk global disaster. But if we intentionally start to transform our cultures to center on sustainability, we will not only prevent depleting the planet’s resources, but may usher in an era of sustainability – one that allows all people to thrive while protecting, even restoring the Earth.

The Transforming Cultures focus area of Worldwatch Europe turns a critical eye to how we can shift today's consumer cultures toward cultures of sustainability. The key to this transformation will lie in harnessing institutions that play a central role in shaping society – such as the media, educational services, business, governments, traditions, and social movements – to instill this new cultural orientation.

The main ideas behind this research field is rooted in the framework of State of the World 2010: Transforming Cultures: From Consumerism to Sustainability, which demonstrates the need for a shift to a culture of sustainability and illustrating how people around the world are already taking important steps.

In August 2011 we hosted a Cultural Transformation seminar in Copenhagen, focusing on the changes which could transform our culture so that living more sustainably feels as natural as living as a consumer feels today.

In November 2012 we released the report From Consumer Kids to Sustainable Childhood. It examines how unsustainable lifestyles are passed on from one generation to the next by the influence of media, marketers and others. A fundamental question is asked: How do we raise our children so that they no longer grow up learning to be consumers but instead learn to become guardians of sustainable living?

The report was launched at a Sustainable Childhood Symposium in Berlin, November 15, 2012.

The research is supported by the Velux Foundation. See also the description of the Build a Living Economy programme.

To keep updated on the topic please check out Worldwatch Institute's Transforming Cultures Blog