What is sufficiency?

Sufficiency is an important cornerstone for sustainable development worldwide. The term “sufficiency” comes from the Latin “sufficere”. That means “sufficient” in German. Sufficiency in the sustainability debate does not mean doing without. On the contrary: At the center of sufficiency are wise consumption and avoidance of excess - consumption with moderation and goal, so to speak. Be careful with what is available, knowing that less is often more.

Scientists deal in detail with the question of where excess begins and how a sufficient lifestyle can be promoted. You have also specifically defined the basic needs for modern life. These include, among other things, ten square meters of living space and a cell phone for everyone, heating and air conditioning and 10.000 kilometers of mobility per year per person. Although this would entail certain restrictions for certain population groups, the quality of life would increase significantly for many other people.

“Those who do not consume are on the margins of society because they do not promote growth or cannot keep up with it. Problematically, this notion of consumption shapes our perception of reality, which apparently cannot be broken. This is exactly where the sufficiency strategy comes in, ”the lexicon of sustainability quotes the authors Fischer and Grießhammer, for example. So sufficiency is about changing our behavior and our attitudes. In any case, when it comes to conserving resources, sufficiency can make a major contribution. Overall, J. Millward-Hopkins reckons that global energy demand would fall by a third if we lived according to the standards of sufficiency research worldwide.

Sufficiency: respecting boundaries

The Sufficiency the central approach lies in respect for the ecological limits of our planet. In addition to sufficiency, efficiency and consistency are also important concepts for the future in the sustainability debate. While efficiency is achieved through technological innovations, consistency means switching from fossil fuels to renewable energies, for example. Or like that Friedrich Ebert Stiftung defines: "Consistency describes the compatibility of anthropogenic material and energy flows with flows of natural origin." However, without a sufficiency strategy, both efficiency and consistency can fail.

An example: If a car uses less fuel but is driven more often and further (for example because fuel costs are not so important), this is a classic rebound effect. The car is more efficient, but our behavior ultimately determines its environmental compatibility. For example, if we replace gasoline-powered vehicles with e-cars in accordance with the consistency strategy, but buy twice as many cars because they are heavily subsidized, the consumption of other valuable raw materials increases accordingly or new problems arise, such as social exploitation in the manufacture of batteries, at. “Sufficiency is a necessary component in an equally necessary ensemble of different sustainability strategies. And it is necessary and possible to promote it with the help of political instruments ”, reads a statement from the Austrian Ecology Institute. (KB)

Written by Karin Bornett

Freelance journalist and blogger in the Community option. Technology-loving Labrador smoking with a passion for village idyll and a soft spot for urban culture.

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