Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Sourced from the UN:
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.

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.

Facts and Figures

  • Should the global population reach 9.6 billion by 2050, the equivalent of almost three planets could be required to provide the natural resources needed to sustain current lifestyles.
  • With rises in the use of non-metallic minerals within infrastructure and construction, there has been significant improvement in the material standard of living. The per capita “material footprint” of developing countries increased from 5 metric tons in 2000 to 9 metric tons in 2017.
  • 93% of the world’s 250 largest companies are now reporting on sustainability.
Water
  • Less than 3 per cent of the world’s water is fresh (drinkable), of which 2.5 per cent is frozen in the Antarctica, Arctic and glaciers. Humanity must therefore rely on 0.5 per cent for all of man’s ecosystem’s and fresh water needs.
  • Man is polluting water faster than nature can recycle and purify water in rivers and lakes.
  • More than 1 billion people still do not have access to fresh water.
  • Excessive use of water contributes to the global water stress.
  • Water is free from nature but the infrastructure needed to deliver it is expensive.
Energy
  • If people worldwide switched to energy efficient light bulbs, the world would save US$120 billion annually.
  • Despite technological advances that have promoted energy efficiency gains, energy use in OECD countries will continue to grow another 35 percent by 2020. Commercial and residential energy use is the second most rapidly growing area of global energy use after transport.
  • In 2002 the motor vehicle stock in OECD countries was 550 million vehicles (75 percent of which were personal cars). A 32 percent increase in vehicle ownership is expected by 2020. At the same time, motor vehicle kilometers are projected to increase by 40 percent and global air travel is projected to triple in the same period.
  • Households consume 29 percent of global energy and consequently contribute to 21 percent of resultant CO2 emissions.
  • The share of renewable energy in final energy consumption has reached 17.5% in 2015.
Food
  • While substantial environmental impacts from food occur in the production phase (agriculture, food processing), households influence these impacts through their dietary choices and habits. This consequently affects the environment through food-related energy consumption and waste generation.
  • Each year, an estimated 1/3 of all food produced – equivalent to 1.3 billion tons worth around $1 trillion – ends up rotting in the bins of consumers and retailers, or spoiling due to poor transportation and harvesting practices
  • 2 billion people globally are overweight or obese.
  • Land degradation, declining soil fertility, unsustainable water use, overfishing and marine environment degradation are all lessening the ability of the natural resource base to supply food.
  • The food sector accounts for around 30 percent of the world’s total energy consumption and accounts for around 22 percent of total Greenhouse Gas emissions.

Resources & References