This paper traces the evolution and the importance of the of the concept of “sustainable production and consumption in the 10 years between the UNCED and the WSSD.
Abstract : At the World Summit on Sustainable Development, world leaders agreed that eliminating unsustainable production and consumption is one of the three overriding objectives of sustainable development. Achieving that objective should have been a major priority for the WSSD Plan of Implementation. Increases in consumption and production over the past decade were largely responsible for the worsening environmental and social trends. Unfortunately, the negotiators of the Plan paid insufficient attention to the lessons from ten years of discussions about the concepts, the available policies and tools and their effectiveness, the impacts of those policies on developing countries, and the political commitment of countries in an era of globalization. Despite a promising proposal for a new ten-year work programme aimed at bridging the gap implementing the Agenda 21 commitments from Rio, Summit negotiators produced barely more than a muted echo of recommendations from the past which have yet to be taken seriously enough by the world's leaders in a comprehensive intergovernmental strategy. In the ten-year review of progress to achieve sustainable production and consumption, governments quickly skipped past the critical work of examining why things are getting worse, avoiding the task of identifying the obstacles (which in some cases were themselves) and in turn avoiding the commitment to time-bound measurable targets. If nothing else, the World Summit on Sustainable Development demonstrated that a global strategy to achieve sustainable production and consumption will come not from a UN consensus of world leaders but from a strategic alliance of responsible governments, civil society, and others with a vision beyond the next election cycle.