56 Ways to Live More Sustainable Lives
Stockholm, 23 April 2012 - A report released today throws the spotlight on 56 examples countries could emulate to switch to more sustainable consumption and production (SCP).
The report, a joint undertaking by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the European Commission, is being launched at Stockholm+40, an event marking the 40th anniversary of the UN Conference on the Human Environment which also led to the establishment of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
The meeting comes some two months before the Rio+20 Summit where one of the overarching themes is a Green Economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.
The new report, the Global Outlook on Sustainable Consumption and Production Policies, is a collection of case studies and best practices ranging from global multilateral agreements and regional strategies to specific policies and initiatives being implemented by governments, businesses and civil society organizations. It also identifies examples of effective policies and initiatives being implemented worldwide.
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director who is attending Stockholm+40, said: "Realizing a low carbon, resource-efficient and employment-generating Green Economy is the challenge for world leaders when they meet in Rio this June- 40 years after Stockholm and two decades after the Rio Earth Summit of 1992.
"This report further underlines that governments are not starting from zero-many of the transformations towards sustainable societies are flourishing within countries and communities across the globe. Rio+20 offers the opportunity to accelerate and scale-up these policies and projects in order to secure the prospects and prosperity of seven billion people, rising to over nine billion by 2050".
The report shows that from Mauritius to Colombia, and from Indonesia to the Czech Republic, more than 20 countries have adopted national SCP strategies identifying key priorities, opportunites and action plans. Business and industry have engaged in a broad range of initiatives to reduce resource depletion and environmental impacts, promoting, for example, corporate social responsibility, sustainable value chains and innovation. Civil society organizations have played a tremendous role in promoting SCP, capacity building, as well as in establishing effective ecolabelling and certification schemes to enable wiser consumer choices.
Fairtrade International (FLO), for instance, coordinates labels for around 15 product groups, from agricultural commodities to gold and sports balls. The label promotes sustainable production by guaranteeing that the price for each product group is set to be socially sustainable, giving producers the means to improve their living and working conditions. FLO-certified product sales saw a significant increase of 15 per cent between 2008 and 2009, amounting to €3.4 billion worldwide.
Other examples featured in the report include environmental management systems (EMS) which have operationalized the concept of SCP, offering opportunities to improve environmental performance while yielding cost-savings; the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in establishing standards and tools to guide companies around the world on the conduct of Lifecycle Assessments (LCAs); and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) which sets out the reporting principles and generic performance indicators that organizations can use to measure and report on the sustainability of their operations.
The reports presents as well concrete green business practices, for example in China and Viet Nam, where the leather company TanTec has achieved significant cost savings by implementing energy efficiency and waste management practices, reducing its energy consumption by 40 per cent and its CO2 emissions by 2,700 tonnes a year. TanTec has also reduced water and chemical consumption by 50 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively.
Sustainable supply chain initiatives in the agri-food sector help farmers and suppliers produce more sustainably. One, the Sainsbury's Dairy Development Group, based in the third-largest chain of supermarkets in the United Kingdom, provides farmers with individual advice on how to reduce their footprint. By 2010, it had carbon footprinted more than 325 of its farms, 98 cheese development farms, 260 beef development farms and 1,400 lamb development farms. Some of the reductions in energy and emissions have come from simple measures, such as harvesting rainwater. Other farmers have achieved higher yields per cow using feed more efficiently or managing their fertilizer differently. Veterinary support is also provided. According to Sainsbury's, the health and welfare work stream has delivered improvements in profitability for Sainsbury's dairy farmers of £1.6 million in 2009.
The Global Outlook provides regional overviews, each regional chapter analyses activities on SCP undertaken by governments, business and civil society as well as an analysis of the type of instruments (regulatory, economic, voluntary or information-based) that are used or promoted by these three actors. A number of governments and intergovernmental bodies have established regional SCP strategies, such as Africa, the Arab region, the European Union and Latin America and Caribbean.
An important regional initiative underscored in the report is the European Commission- funded SWITCH Asia Programme which promoted SCP among Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and supported Asian policymakers in shifting towards SCP practices. The SWITCH Asia Programme has funded more than 47 projects in 15 Asian countries in areas such as green public procurement, cleaner production and ecolabelling.
In Africa, the regional 10-Year Framework of Programmes on SCP has spurred the development and implementation of a number of SCP programmes. National SCP strategies has been developed in more than 10 countries and the African Ecolabelling Mechanism has been launched.
In the Arab region there innovative initiatives are taking places such as the Masdar Green City in Abu Dhabi that aims to be a zero-waste, zero-carbon city. There are other successful initiatives such as the Dubai Sustainable transport Project which received an award on sustainable transport and launched a campaign on "Why should you drive if you can ride the Dubai Metro?"
The Global Outlook on SCP Policies provides recommendations to adapt, replicate and scale up SCP policies and initiatives contributing to the overarching goal of achieving sustainable development. It encourages decision-makers in all arenas to take action to:
Integrate SCP into policy frameworks and strategic plans.
Ensure the collection of more SCP data to measure policy effectiveness and track progress.
Learn from experience to develop an optimal policy mix.
Provide enabling policy frameworks to encourage business investments on SCP.
Adopt and apply alternative measures of progress beyond GDP.
Give more emphasis to the demand side to promote sustainable lifestyles.
Enhance responsible marketing and media through policies and campaigns.
Draw on and further develop partnerships among all actors and regions.
The Global Outlook on SCP Policies is one step forward in gathering information on SCP policies supporting the transition to sustainable development. Building on this effort, as well as on the work achieved by the Marrakech Process on SCP, UNEP will continue to collect good initiatives and practices on SCP. This will be done in close cooperation with all stakeholders and UN agencies, with the objective of sharing information and experience among all regions and all actors.
As we look forward to the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), we hope that this report will provide a framework and a set of concrete actions to advance sustainable development across the globe that will be followed up in the years to come.
Nick Nuttall, Acting Director Communications and UNEP spokesperson, +254 762 3292 /Mobile +254 (0)733 632 755 or when travelling +41 79 596 5737, or email Nick.Nuttall@unep.org
Moira O'Brien-Malone, UNEP Communications, Paris, +33 1 44 37 76 12,
mobile +33 6 82 26 93 73, or email firstname.lastname@example.org;
Adriana Zacarias Farah, UNEP Sustainable Consumption and Production Branch,
+33 144 373002 or email Adriana.Zacarias@unep.org
Copies of the report can be downloaded from http://www.unep.org/publications
Executive summaries are available in Arabic, English, Chinese, Spanish and Russian.
Stokcholm+40 international conference see: www.sweden.gov.se/stockholm+40
United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNSCD), 2012 (Rio+20): http://www.rio20.gov.br
For more information on UNEP's work:
Sustainable Consumption and Production: http://www.unep.fr/scp
Green Economy Initiative: http://www.unep.org/greeneconomy
International Resource Panel: http://www.unep.org/resourcepanel