Our planet is under massive strain. Should the global population push the figure of 9.6 billion by 2050, we will need three Earths to sustain current lifestyles for everyone. Each year, an estimated one-third of all food produced – equivalent to 1.3 billion tonnes worth around USD 1 trillion – ends up rotting in the bins of consumers and retailers, or spoiling due to poor transportation and harvesting practices. More than one billion people still do not have access to fresh water. Less than 3% of the world’s water is fresh (drinkable), of which 2.5% is frozen in Antarctica, the Arctic and glaciers. Humanity must therefore rely on 0.5% for all man’s ecosystem’s and fresh water needs. Despite technological advances that have promoted energy efficiency gains, energy use in OECD countries will increase a further 35% by 2020.
Why is this important?
Sustainable consumption and production aims at “doing more and better with less,” increasing net welfare gains from economic activities by reducing resource use, degradation, and pollution, while increasing the quality of life. Sustainable development will be achieved not only by growing our economies, but minimising waste in the process of doing so. Growth that contaminates the environment sets development back.
How can we address this?
Sustainable consumption and production is about promoting resource and energy efficiency, sustainable infrastructure, and providing access to basic services, green and decent jobs and a better quality of life for all. Its implementation helps to achieve overall development plans, reduce future economic, environmental and social costs, strengthen economic competitiveness and reduce poverty. It also requires a systemic approach and co-operation among actors operating in the supply chain, from producer to final consumer. It involves engaging consumers through awareness-raising and education on sustainable consumption and lifestyles, providing consumers with adequate information through standards and labelling and engagement in sustainable public procurement. This will involve a new global partnership between business, consumers, policy makers, researchers, scientists, retailers, the media, and development co-operation agencies.
India and Goal 12
The issue of resource use is vital for the country. While the country is home to 17.5% of the world’s population, it has only 4% of global water resources. The generation of waste and pollutants also poses a challenge. India is the fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gases and is responsible for 5.3% of global emissions. However, in October 2015, India made a commitment to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 20-25% from its 2005 levels by 2020 and by 33-35% by 2030. On 2 October 2016 India formally ratified the historic Paris Agreement. The National Policy on Biofuels and the National Clean Energy Fund are some of the government’s flagship schemes aimed at achieving sustainable consumption and production, and managing the efficient use of natural resources.
- Implement the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production, all countries taking action, with developed countries taking the lead, taking into account the development and capabilities of developing countries.
- By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources.
- By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.
- By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimise their adverse impacts on human health and the environment.
- By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse.
- Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle.
- Promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities.
- By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature.
- Support developing countries to strengthen their scientific and technological capacity to move towards more sustainable patterns of consumption and production.
- Develop and implement tools to monitor sustainable development impacts for sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products.
- Rationalise inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption by removing market distortions, in accordance with national circumstances, including by restructuring taxation and phasing out those harmful subsidies, where they exist, to reflect their environmental impacts, taking fully into account the specific needs and conditions of developing countries and minimising the possible adverse impacts on their development in a manner that protects the poor and the affected communities.