Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
At the current time, material consumption of natural resources is increasing, particularly within Eastern Asia. Countries are also continuing to address challenges regarding air, water and soil pollution.
Since sustainable consumption and production aims at “doing more and better with less,” net welfare gains from economic activities can increase by reducing resource use, degradation and pollution along the whole life cycle, while increasing quality of life. There also needs to be significant focus on operating on supply chain, involving everyone from producer to final consumer. This includes educating consumers on sustainable consumption and lifestyles, providing them with adequate information through standards and labels and engaging in sustainable public procurement, among others.
Sustainable consumption and production focuses on doing more and better with less. Sustainable consumption reduces the need for excessive resource extraction, and sustainable production uses fewer resources for the same value of economic output. It is about promoting resource and energy efficiency, creating sustainable infrastructure, reducing degradation and pollution along the whole life cycle, and providing access to basic services and decent jobs.
As the middle class expands, demand for already constrained natural resources expands. Should the global population reach 9.6 billion by 2050, the equivalent of almost 3 planets could be required to provide the natural resources needed to sustain current lifestyles. Our consumption and production patterns need to change, if we want to avoid irreversible environmental damage.
- Each year, one-third of all food produced (1.3 billion tonnes worth around $1 trillion) ends up rotting in garbages or spoiling due to poor transportation and harvesting practices. Meanwhile, almost 1 billion people go undernourished and another 1 billion hungry.
- Land and marine degradation, declining soil fertility, unsustainable water use, and overfishing are lessening the ability of the natural resource base to supply food.
- Less than 3% of the world’s water is drinkable, of which 2.5% is frozen in Antarctica, Arctic, and glaciers. The limited water we get from rivers and lakes is being polluted faster than nature can recycle and purify it.
- More than 1 billion people still do not have access to fresh water. Excessive water use and the cost of the infrastructure needed to deliver water contribute to the global water stress.
- Globally, the material footprint rose from 48.5 billion metric tons in 2000 to 69.3 billion metric tons in 2010. The two regions that accounted for the largest share of this footprint were Eastern and South-Eastern Asia (28.6 billion metric tons) and Europe and Northern America (21.9 billion metric tons).
- As a consumer, you can reduce your waste by not throwing away food, using reusable bags, refusing to use plastic straws, and recycling plastic bottles. You can also be more thoughtful about what you buy, choosing a sustainable and local source whenever possible. You can also switch to energy efficient light bulbs, which, if done globally, would save $120 billion annually.
- As a business owner, you can implement more sustainable consumption and production patterns. You can also educate yourself about product life cycles and ensure your business is doing all it can to improve its environmental and social impact.
- 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 minimize 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
- Rationalize 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 minimizing the possible adverse impacts on their development in a manner that protects the poor and the affected communities
• As a member of society, your active engagement in policy-making ensures that your voice is heard, knowledge is shared, and that critical thinking is encouraged at all ages. Policymakers can help generate job opportunities and fiscal policies that stimulate pro-poor growth and reduce poverty.
• As a member of the science and academic community, you can help discover sustainable solutions for the challenges of reducing poverty. Thanks to this community, there is now greater access to safe drinking water, reduced deaths caused by water-borne diseases, and improved hygiene to reduce health risks related to unsafe drinking water and lack of sanitation.
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Ask questions to your leaders about what they’re doing in regards to sustainable production. Focus your attention on actionable steps because no step is too small to make a difference. Join our community and help create a better world.