Goal 12: ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Author:Hoballah, Arab
Position:Sustainable development goals of the United Nations General Assembly

Goal 12 of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) proposed by the Open Working Group (OWG) of the General Assembly of the United Nations is aiming at ensuring sustainable consumption and production (SCP) patterns. Why is this an imperative for sustainable development?


By 2050, the world population will reach 9.5 billion, (1) 70 per cent of which will live in resource-intensive urban areas. Three billion middle class consumers will join the global economy by 2040. While the global poverty line of US $1.25 a day in 2010 was less than half the 1990 rate, 1.2 billion people are still living in extreme poverty. (2) To respond to these challenges within the carrying capacity of the Earth system, the adoption of sustainable patterns of consumption and production is an imperative, as it conserves through resource efficiency the basis for future development.

This has been a consistent message from the international community since 2002. The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), and "The future we want" outcome document of the Rio+20 Conference in 2012, both recognized that "poverty eradication, changing unsustainable and promoting sustainable patterns of consumption and production and protecting and managing the natural resource base of economic and social development are the overarching objectives of and essential requirements for sustainable development". (3)

Today, the inclusion of SDG 12 in the proposed SDGs recognizes the essential and cross-cutting role of SCP in sustainable development. Targets in 12 of the other SDGs are also oriented towards the achievement of SCP patterns.

The High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, commissioned by the Secretary-General of the United Nations in 2013, designated SCP as one of the four key areas on which progress is needed to achieve their post-2015 vision: "to end extreme poverty in all its forms...and to have in place the building blocks of sustained prosperity for all". (4) The High-level Panel recognizes that transforming economies for jobs and inclusive growth requires a rapid shift to sustainable patterns of consumption and production. (5) The Panel found that the world's consumption and production patterns need to be managed in a more sustainable and equitable way and that only by mobilizing economic, social and environmental action together, can we irreversibly reduce poverty. (6)


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