Views from civil society on the 10 year framework
1. What progress have you seen since Rio?
As you know, unsustainable production and consumption patterns continue to expand and are the main cause of worsening environmental and social trends (e.g., climate change, biodiversity loss, the food and water crises, and economic insecurity.) Since the 1992 Earth summit, what progress have you seen in addressing this overarching problem?
Peter Adriance, Baha'is of the U.S.
Bas de Leeuw, The Sustainability Institute
There has been tremendous progress on all levels, from individual to global. Toolbox for SCP has been filled and was used: legislation and international regulation (eg Climate Change, Ozonlayer), financial and voluntary initiatives (labeling, ecodesign, marketing campaigns, efficiency standards etc.). Also many projects carried out in developing countries, enabling them to leapfrog. However, progress is seriously lacking. Despite all efforts still no sense of urgency (comparable for instance to the recent financial crisis which mobilized mega financial flows for saving our financial system; we know that such amounts would make a difference for saving our ecosystem!)
Rajan Gandhi, SAG (India)
Even as on date, the term “sustainable consumption & production” is relatively alien in India; people still prefer to use the words “sustainable development”.
India has a plethora of excellent legislation when it comes to prevention of pollution in manufacturing processes. The problem lies more in the implementation; laws are often circumvented and often, corruption plays a major role in this. Resource efficiency in production is not such a major issue, since the sheer economics of manufacturing for Indian domestic (and even export) demand requires that producers use the least possible resources for a given output. India is still too poor to afford the luxury of profligate manufacturing.
Where India does have problems in the area of sustainable production is:
On the consumption side, India’s record has been poor. Most of India is still at the bottom of the purchasing pyramid where the meeting of basic needs of food, shelter and clothing are paramount. On the other hand, India is said to have a “consuming class” of 200-250 million which blindly apes the West in purchasing habits with scant regard to sustainability. Compounding this is the absence of any criteria (such as a functioning eco-label) by which consumers could assess the environmental impact of a product or brand.
Some progress has been made; a highly successful Energy Star rating has been introduced, Compact Fluorescent Lamps are being heavily subsidized, public transportation systems are being re-vamped, environmental education is compulsory at the primary school level.
Ke Chung Kim, Ph. D., Dipl.-ABFE
We have not made much progress in real terms because of the continued expansion of human population, soon reaching the 7 billion and related demands of continued expansion of production and consumption along with continued conversion of natural habitats and environments into human habitation and development. At the same time humanity continues to demand and likewise develop technology of convenience and economic advancement irrespective of wealth levels, as all of human species with intelligence and curiosity aspire to satisfy endless desire and comfort without preventing disastrous consequences as we see in today’s continued negative trends of unsustainable production and consumption.
Sylvia Lorek, SERI (Sustainable Europe Research Institute, Germany)
In the sense of ‘talking about it’ addressing sustainable consumption and production is much better than early 1990s, at least at a governmental and IGO level. However, with inventing the technical term SCP for the issue the discussion also became much technical and quite often it is hiding more than enlightening the real problem(s). A broad variety of NGOs and/or grassroots organization working on core problems to overcome unsustainable consumption don’t know what SCP is, how they are linked to it or if they like to be linked to it at all.
The main problem is the market and the commodity focus of SCP. Substantial systemic changes towards less material intensive lifestyles are neglected (see as a prominent and indeed depressing example the European SCP Action plan).
Leonard Sonnenschein, World Aquarium