The report identifies creative approaches to policy, finance, partnerships, education and data use, that will enhance understanding of environmental issues and improve sustainability, positively impact on society, economy and the environment and create the conditions for an effective transition towards SCP patterns.
It emphasizes that investing in education and transitioning to an inclusive knowledge society can lead to a generation that solves global environmental challenges and advances SDG implementation.
February 2019: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has published a report addressing innovation for environmental challenges and sustainable consumption and production (SCP). The report is one of several released in advance of the fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-4).
The report titled, ‘Innovative Solutions for Environmental Challenges and Sustainable Consumption and Production’ (UNEP/EA.4/17), identifies creative approaches to policy, finance, partnerships, education and data use, that will: enhance understanding of environmental issues and improve sustainability; positively impact on society, economy and the environment; and create the conditions for an effective transition towards SCP patterns. More specifically, the report focuses on solutions related to:
- environmental challenges associated with poverty and natural resource management, including sustainable food systems, food security and halting biodiversity loss;
- life cycle approaches to resource efficiency, energy and chemicals and waste management; and
- innovative sustainable business development during a period of rapid technological change.
The report concludes that innovative solutions and systemic changes towards sustainability in governance models and throughout the life cycle of products and services are necessary to achieve SCP. It emphasizes that investing in education and transitioning to an inclusive knowledge society can lead to a generation that solves global environmental challenges and advances SDG implementation.
Decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation is critical for achieving the SDGs.
Decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation, the report explains, is critical for achieving the SDGs, and developing scenarios and data modeling can inform smart policies and improve decision making. The report emphasizes that sustainable, resilient food systems will help eradicate poverty and achieve at least 12 of the 17 SDGs. It underscores the need to reduce food losses, halve waste among consumers and promote healthier, more sustainable diets, and urges governments to start measuring their food waste through, for example: the Food Waste Index being developed by UNEP and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO).
The report calls for investment in resilient, climate-smart agriculture (CSA) and sustainable value chains. It cites such private sector partnerships as the One Planet Network Sustainable Food Systems Programme, established under the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns (10YFP), which supports achievement of SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production) and more sustainable value chains in developing countries.
The report also discusses efforts to: reduce methane (CH4) emissions in collaboration with the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC); adjust national dietary guidelines and related nutrition policies; employ ready-to-use technologies to help food traceability and certification, crop monitoring, pest and disease prediction, and climate monitoring; and use indigenous knowledge, integrated pest management, permaculture and agroecology to maintain and increase yields. It suggests that the International Resource Panel provide regular reports to the UNEA on progress in achieving resource management-related SDGs and targets.
The report highlights the role of transparency in unlocking practical, affordable and innovative environmental solutions and increasing opportunities for sustainable investments. As an example, it cites efforts made by national and multilateral development organizations in the disbursement of climate change funds.
The report recommends that UNEP: strengthen its delivery framework by continuously investing in a strong science-policy interface; enhance efforts to develop and implement more innovative policies and partnerships that respond to the systemic nature of the SDGs, the UNEP medium-term strategy and UN reform; and prioritize work on circularity and pollution and on securing a new deal for nature and biodiversity as interconnected priorities in its programme of work.
UNEA-4 will convene from 11-15 March 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya, under the theme, ‘Innovative Solutions for Environmental Challenges and Sustainable Consumption and Production.’ [UNEP Report on Innovative Solutions for Environmental Challenges and Sustainable Consumption and Production]