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Sustainable consumption and production (SCP)


Sustainable consumption and production (SCP) refers to “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”.

SCP is about doing more and better with less, decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation. SCP is about increasing resource efficiency and promoting sustainable lifestyles. It offers important contributions for poverty alleviation and the transition towards low-carbon and green economies. It requires building cooperation among different stakeholders as well as across sectors in all countries.

Economic development over the past 30 years has managed to lift millions out of poverty and expand the number of countries reaching middle-income status. However, it has also been accompanied by a wide array of negative environmental and social impacts, which now threaten to undermine, or even reverse, the progress that has been achieved to date.

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 stretches wider. Health, education, equity and empowerment are all adversely affected. The need for a concerted, cooperative effort to overcome these challenges by achieving a shift towards sustainable consumption and production (SCP) patterns is clear. This requires a systemic approach and involves us all: governments, international and regional organizations, business and industry, consumers, researchers, scientists, the media and others.

Want to know more...
• SCP key concepts and objectives
• Some history: SCP & Sustainable Development cooperation at the international level
• Today: the 10 Year Framework of Programmes on SCP

SCP key concepts and objectives
The SCP is a holistic approach and is about systemic change. 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 lifecycle, 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 the lifecycle 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.

Some history: SCP & Sustainable Development cooperation at the international level

Sustainable Consumption and Production is a core component of the international sustainable development agenda. At the Earth Summit in 1992, the international community first called for action to promote patterns of consumption and production that reduce environmental stress and meet the basic needs of humanity (Agenda 21). Ten years later, the world leaders signed the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) that recognized SCP as one of the overarching objectives of and an essential requirement for sustainable development. The JPOI called for all countries to take action, with developed countries taking the lead, and for the development of a 10-year framework of programmes (10YFP) in support of SCP regional and national initiatives.

Since then, a lot of progress has been done with support from governments and all major groups, through numerous initiatives and partnerships at all levels, including the Marrakech Process on SCP, a global and informal multi-stakeholder platform launched in 2003 in response to the call of the JPOI. Active until 2011, the Marrakech Process supported the advancement of SCP at the international, regional and national levels, fostering dialogue and cooperation, and providing inputs for the elaboration of the 10 Year Framework of Programmes on SCP (10YFP), which was adopted in 2012 by the international community as an outcome of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development - Rio+20.

Through a bottom-up and participatory approach, the Marrakech Process supported the elaboration of regional SCP programmes and strategies in most regions, as well as the implementation of 33 demonstration projects through the work of its seven thematic Task Forces who have developed more than 30 SCP tools and methodologies, facilitating access to networks and funding, as well as strengthening cooperation between regional and/or national implementation mechanisms.

Today: the 10 Year Framework of Programmes on SCP (10YFP)

The 10YFP is a global framework of action to enhance international cooperation to accelerate the shift towards SCP in both developed and developing countries. The framework supports capacity building, and facilitate access to technical and financial assistance for developing countries for this shift. The 10YFP is meant to develop, replicate and scale up SCP and resource efficiency initiatives, at national and regional levels, decoupling environmental degradation and resource use from economic growth, and thus increase the net contribution of economic activities to poverty eradication and social development. The framework encourages innovation and cooperation among all stakeholders.