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If you’re this blog’s regular visitor, you must be familiar with the term ‘sustainable consumption and production’ (SCP). What is it, and why would it always be linked with the concept of green living?

Sustainable consumption and production: what and how

SDGs 12: sustainable consumption and production pattern (Source: ISGlobal)

In 1994, at the Oslo Symposium, Sustainable Consumption and Production was defined as “the use of 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 so as not to jeopardize the needs of future generations”.

In short, sustainable consumption and production patterns is about doing more and better with less. It is also about decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation, increasing resource efficiency and promoting sustainable lifestyles.

According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), sustainable consumption and production patterns require a systemic change. We need a holistic approach to manifest them. It is built around three main objectives:

Decoupling environmental degradation from economic growth. 

This is about doing more and better with less, increasing net welfare gains from economic activities by reducing resource use, degradation and pollution along the whole life cycle, while increasing quality of life. ‘More’ is delivered in terms of goods and services, with ‘less’ impact in terms of resource use, environmental degradation, waste and pollution.

Applying life cycle thinking. 

This is about increasing the sustainable management of resources and achieving resource efficiency along both production and consumption phases of the lifecycle, including resource extraction, the production of intermediate inputs, distribution, marketing, use, waste disposal and re-use of products and services.

Sizing opportunities for developing countries and “leapfrogging”.

SCP contributes to poverty eradication and to the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). For developing countries, SCP offers opportunities such as the creation of new markets, green and decent jobs as well as more efficient, welfare-generating natural resource management. It is an opportunity to “leapfrog” to more resource efficient, environmentally sound and competitive technologies, bypassing the inefficient, polluting, and ultimately costly phases of development followed by most developed countries.

Why do we need the sustainable consumption and production pattern?

We are currently consuming more resources than ever, exceeding the planet’s capacity for generation. In the meantime, waste and pollution grows, and the gap between rich and poor is widening. Health, education, equity and empowerment are all adversely affected.

Jakarta citizens crowd over Tanah Abang Market. (Source: Indonesia Economic Forum)

The economic gap between the rich and poor keeps growing. 1,2 billion people are still living in extreme poverty today. So, on one hand we have rich people “wanting more” and, on the other, we have poor people “needing” the essentials. Moreover, mankind should keep in mind that we’re not alone on this planet. We share the place with plants and animals, with the same rights to live as humans.

In the year 1820, approximately there were 1,042 billion people. A century later in 1920, the number expanded to 1,86 billion people. Just another 100 years later in 2020, the human population exploded to 7 times as much, with the number reaching 7,7 billion people on this planet. The number might seem insignificant until we consider the fact that everyone needs residential land, fresh water and food. The earth is shrinking and humans are growing, making sustainable consumption and production getting more crucial than ever.

Our consumption (and production) pattern is problematic because we only have one planet with finite resources. If we keep consuming and producing like we do currently, there will come a day when the earth can no longer provide us with the resources necessary to fulfil our needs. 

Implement SCP in our daily lives

We need to cut our carbon emissions and change our current consumption and production pattern in order to escalate our economic growth along with the attempt to realize sustainable development.

Sustainable consumption and production supports the circular economy concept. (Source: UNEP)

Waste and resources management is a crucial target to achieve sustainable consumption and production’s goals. Demand and urge industries to manage their waste could be a big step to realize this SDGs no. 12.

Sustainable consumption and production can also contribute substantially to poverty alleviation and the transition towards low-carbon and green economies. It needs cross-sector and multi-stakeholders collaborations throughout countries in the world to make it happen.

It sounds rather challenging to do it at home, no? In fact, the sustainable consumption and production pattern is possible to be applied in the smallest scale of community, that is in the households. You could also suggest friends and family to join to take part.

We could utilize the less waste lifestyle by composting and prolonging the life of a certain item. In practice, you could start by shopping at a bulk store, choosing to repair an item than buying new ones, or buying second hand.

Now imagine that it is done by a large-scale community. It could have a wide impact if it’s done collectively. Along the way, if it’s in high demand, producers might consider selling goods with less plastic packaging. Therefore, every level of society can contribute to the realization of sustainable consumption and production.

References

Lama, P. (n.d.). Sustainable Consumption and Production : Why is it Important?Print This Article . Retrieved from The Druk Journal: http://drukjournal.bt/sustainable-consumption-and-production-why-is-it-important/

https://jointsdgfund.org/sustainable-development-goals/goal-12-responsible-consumption-production

https://www.oneplanetnetwork.org/about/ what-Sustainable-Consumption-Production

https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/ topics/ sustainableconsumptionandproduction

https://www.unep.org/explore-topics/resource-efficiency/what-we-do/sustainable-consumption-and-production-policies

https://www.un.org/ sustainabledevelopment/ sustainable-consumption-production/

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