SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL 12

Ensure sustainable consumption

RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION & PRODUCTION: WHY IT MATTERS

What is the goal here?

To ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns environmental degradation that is endangering the very systems on which our future development and very survival depend.

Why?

Economic and social progress over the last century has been accompanied by our consumption and production patterns, we will cause irreversible damage to our environment.

What are some of the current consumption and production patterns that need to change?

There are many aspects of consumption that with simple changes can have a big impact on society as a whole. For example, about one third of the food produced for human consumption each year is lost or wasted. When it comes to consumers, households consume 29 per cent of global energy and contribute to 21 per cent of resultant CO2 emissions.

Water pollution is also a pressing issue that needs a sustainable solution. We are polluting water faster than nature can recycle and purify water in rivers and lakes. Urgent action is needed to ensure that current material needs do not lead to over-extraction of resources and further degradation of the environment.

How can I help as a business?

It’s in businesses’ interest to find new solutions that enable sustainable consumption and production patterns. A better understanding of environmental and social impacts of products and services is needed, both of product life cycles and how these are affected by use within lifestyles.

Identifying “hot spots” within the value chain where interventions have the greatest potential to improve the environmental and social impact of the system as a whole is a crucial first step.

Businesses can also use their innovative power to design solutions that can both enable and inspire individuals to lead more sustainable lifestyles, reducing impacts and improving well-being.

How can I help as a consumer?

There are two main ways to help: 1. Reducing your waste and 2. Being thoughtful about what you buy and choosing a sustainable option when- ever possible. Reducing our waste can be done in many ways, from ensuring you don’t throw away food to reducing your consumption of plastic—one of the main pollutants of the ocean. Carrying a reusable bag, refusing to use plastic straws, and recycling plastic bottles are good ways to do your part every day.

Making informed purchases about what we’re buying also helps. For example, the textile industry today is the second largest polluter of clean water after agriculture, and many fashion companies exploit textile workers in the developing world. If you can buy from sustain- able and local sources you can make a difference as well as exercising pressure on businesses to adopt sustainable practices.

For more suggestions on what you can do please visit:

www.un.org/ en/actnow

To find out more about Goal #12 and other Sustainable Development Goals, visit:

www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment

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