By 2050, the world population will reach 9.5 billion, 70 per cent of which will live in resource-intensive urban areas. Three billion middle class consumers will join the global economy by 2040. Thus begins the UN Chronicle article on sustainable consumption and production authored by Dr. Arab Hoballah, Chief of the Sustainable Consumption and Production Branch of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and his colleague Sandra Averous, Associate Programme Officer.
According to Hoballah and Averous, sustainable consumption and production (SCP) is a cross-cutting issue that can enhance the impact of all other sustainable development efforts. They warn that unsustainable patterns of consumption and production exacerbate environmental problems, such as deforestation, water scarcity, and food waste,among others. At the same time, these conditions affect the population directly, particularly the most vulnerable.
The article proposes changes on different fronts, suggesting that it is necessary to “do more with less”, in other words, “use […] services and related products, which respond to basic needs and bring a better quality of life while minimizing the use of natural resources and toxic materials as well as the emissions of waste and pollutants over the life cycle of the service or product […]”.
The authors consider the Sustainable Development Goal number 12 on SCP as central to the achievement of the other goals and targets established by the United Nations 2030 Agenda forSustainable Development. The article provides insight with regard to the promotion of a shift towards sustainable modes of consumption and production through greater “efficiency and productivity throughout the supply chain and the life cycle of the products, now and over the long-term.” in view of delivering a truly transformative change.
Hoballah and Averous also call for increased international cooperation to promote capacity-building, collaboration and the scaling-up of successful initiatives. Other suggestions include greater emphasis on sustainable public procurement, the promotion of SCP in strategic sectors such as construction and buildings, tourism and food systems, as well as increased consumer information and education for sustainable development and lifestyle changes.
Furthermore, in relation to the outcomes of the COP21 in Paris, delivering SCP is critical for climate mitigation, as duly recognized in the Paris Agreement: “recognizing that sustainable lifestyles and sustainable patterns of consumption and production, with developed country Parties taking the lead, play an important role in addressing climate change”.
Read the complete article here.