GOAL 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
SDG Progress and Industry Notes
The 2018 Report of the Secretary-General on Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, notes that “Decoupling economic growth from resource use is one of the most critical and complex challenges facing humanity today. Doing so effectively will require policies that create a conducive environment for such change, social and physical infrastructure and markets, and a profound transformation of business practices along global value chains. fThe per capita “material footprint” of developing countries grew from 5 metric tons in 2000 to 9 metric tons in 2017, representing a significant improvement in the material standard of living. Most of the increase is attributed to a rise in the use of non-metallic minerals, pointing to growth in the areas of infrastructure and construction. fFor all types of materials, developed countries have at least double the per capita footprint of developing countries. In particular, the material footprint for fossil fuels is more than four times higher for developed than developing countries. fBy 2018, a total of 108 countries had national policies and initiatives relevant to sustainable consumption and production. fAccording to a recent report from KPMG, 93 per cent of the world’s 250 largest companies (in terms of revenue) are now reporting on sustainability, as are three quarters of the top 100 companies in 49 countries.
• Decoupling economic growth from natural resource use is fundamental to sustainable development. Global figures, however, point to worsening trends:domestic material consumption (the total amount of natural resour ces used in economic processes) increased from 1.2 kg to 1.3 kg per unit of GDP from 2000 to 2010. Total domestic material consumption also rose during the same period — from 48.7 billion tons to 71.0 billion tons. The increase is due in part to rising natural resource use worldwide, in particular in Eastern Asia.
• Countries continue to address challenges linked to air, soil and water pollution and exposure to toxic chemicals under the auspices of multilateral environmental agreements. Almost all States Members of the United Nations are party to at least one of those conventions. Under the conventions’ obligations, countries are requested to regularly report data and information related to hazardous wastes, persistent organic pollutants and ozone depleting substances. However, from 2010 to 2014, only 57 per cent of the parties to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, 71 per cent of the parties to the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade and 51 per cent of the parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants provided the requested data and information. All parties reported to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.”
Goal 12 will be reviewed during the 2018 HLPF.
Current and projected rates of material consumption are simply not sustainable. The impact of rising consumption coupled with the projected growth of the middle class in developing countries will require even more resources. According to WRI, “[i]f consumption continues at its current rate, we’ll need three times as many natural resources by 2050 compared to what we used in 2000.” See http://www.wri.org/blog/2017/07/apparel-industrys-environmental-impact-6-graphics
“The current global apparel market is estimated at $1.7 trillion which forms approximately 2 per cent of the world GDP of $73.5 trillion. Apparel consumption in top 8 economies constitutes approximately 70 per cent of the global consumption.”
In addition to resource and manufacturing efficiences and more sustainable inputs such as preferred fibers and materials, the Apparel and Textile Industry is testing out more circular models with some success. But changing consumer behavior will also be a large component of the solution to lowering consumption patterns. To learn more, see resources under SDG 9 and SDG 12.