Kamila POPE, PhD in Law, Politics, and Society (Brazil)

Kamila Pope is aiming to overcome planned obsolescence, by raising awareness of the problem. Her research focuses on finding political solutions and appropriate legal regulations. She also won the prize of best PhD thesis in Law of 2019 in Brazil, awarded by CAPES (Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel), a foundation within the Brazilian Ministry of Education.


Research focus: practical, legal and political solutions to overcome planned obsolescence, reaching more sustainable production and consumption patterns

Inspired by the 8th principle of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, which declares that states should reduce and eliminate unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, Kamila aims to tackle obsolescence from a legal and political perspective. Planned obsolescence is the artificial reduction of the durability of consumer goods to induce consumers to purchase substitute products before they would need to and, therefore, more often than they normally would. Societal trends often dictate when products become outdated, as new designs and update versions emerge. Manufacturers contribute to this by deliberately determining the life span of their products by developing techniques to anticipate breakage or choosing materials of inferior quality. Products also tend to become obsolete when updates slow down performance. The practice of planned obsolescence contributes to the overexploitation of natural resources and the overproduction of waste. In her research, Kamila is weighing up innovative strategies that can address these challenges from multiple angles, including business, design and technology. She is focusing on political and judicial solutions because of their authority in influencing society.

Taking Germany as a role model for providing incentives to overcome obsolescence, Kamila aims to add to her expertise through collaboration with the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) and exchanges with VAUDE, where she is looking to learn about sustainable production methods.

The jury was impressed by Kamila’s new perspective on sustainability and the willingness to go beyond traditional environmentalism to find solutions for the under-reported issue of planned obsolescence. The Science Forum in Germany will provide her with the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge in her scientific field through research development, networking and peer-sharing experiences.