I believe that maintaining the standard of living in developed countries is essential for sustainable change to happen. Citizens of developed countries have the greatest capability to be changemakers, but few would take on this task if their quality of life were to be significantly diminished. Fortunately standards of living can be maintained without the excessive consumption so common in current society. “Collaborative consumption” as explained by Rachel Botsman is on the rise everywhere, and especially in socially progressive areas like California. On a recent trip to San Francisco, we rented a car through a service called RelayRides where individuals put their personal cars up for rent just as big car rental companies do. Services like this require a level of trust in strangers that would be unthinkable just a few years ago. I think that the rapidly growing popularity of collaborative consumption services indicate steps in the right direction for developed countries and redistribution of wealth further down the line.
In developing countries reduced consumption is much less important than sustainable use of resources. The lower per capita GDP does not allow for excess like we see in the US, though the goods purchased and resulting waste has much room for improvement. Especially in second world developing countries I believe the biggest issue with growth is exactly what standard of living the population is trying to achieve. If the current Western standard of excess is seen as the end goal, then global sustainable growth is not a possibility. Countries in this stage do not necessarily need to reduce their consumption, but put their resources to use in more sustainable ways.