Making Sustainable Lives Easier: A Priority for Governments, Business and Society

Date of the Report

February 2011

Author of the report

Sustainable Development Commission – Claire Monkhouse and Sue Dibb

Purpose of the report

This report sets out what is needed, from governments and others, to help enable us all to live sustainable lives in our homes and communities. The report finds that government initiatives to help people live more sustainably lack ambition and direction, and are too timid given the scale and urgency of the challenge. Although increasing numbers of people try to ‘do the right thing’, we are still a long way from living sustainably; and those who do make an effort often find themselves swimming against the tide of society’s norms.

Relevance to the region

Sustainability is a key issue in the West Midlands and topics discussed in the report such as: poorly insulated homes; difficult and expensive public and active travel, and being surrounded by unhealthy food and relentless signals to consume, are greatly relevant to the region and make it difficult to choose sustainable options to live sustainably.

What SWM liked

We like the Sustainable Development Commission’s four key ideas on how to approach mainstreaming sustainability, whereby the government, business communities and civil society organisations work in partnership to make sustainable choices the norm. These are:

  • A clear positive vision for sustainable lives that engages all players and is clear about the priorities for action to achieve the goal of sustainable lives.
  • Making it easy by providing a framework that uses the full spectrum of levers and incentives to ‘enable’ us to do the ‘right thing’ more easily.
  • Working with others through better collaboration and better partnerships between national and local governments, civil society organisations, businesses, communities and people themselves. They all play a vital role in the transition to sustainable lives.
  • Building capabilities and using evidence to create better understanding of what works in practice and using this knowledge in policy making.

 Links and contact information

For more information visit the Sustainable Development Commission website.  


Making Sustainable Lives Easier A Priority for Governments, Business and Society (pdf)

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