13 July 2018
UNEP, UNITAR Discuss System-thinking for SCP
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
story highlights

A workshop held in the margins of the HLPF unpacked the relationship between sustainable production and consumption (SCP) and the 2030 Agenda.

Jointly organized by UN Environment, and the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the event presented an SCP Hotspot Analysis Tool and Guidelines for Providing Product Sustainability Information.

12 July 2018: A workshop on sustainable consumption and production (SCP) reviewed the science behind measuring and ensuring resource efficiency. During the event, participants discussed SCP’s linkages across the SDGs and identified enabling conditions, policy tools and instruments to mainstream SCP into both producers’ and consumers’ daily practices.

Jointly organized by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP, or UN Environment), the Secretariat of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production (10YFP) and the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the workshop applied an SCP approach to urban environments and food systems. Opening remarks by Nikhil Seth, UNITAR, recognized SCP as a means of addressing the SDGs and hopes of people today without jeopardizing future generations.

The first session, on the science behind SCP, featured experts from the UN Environment’s International Resource Panel (IRP). Reid J. Lifset, from Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, outlined concepts and tools that can inform decision-making, such as material flow analysis and life-cycle assessment (LCA). Anu Ramaswami, from University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, focused on the linkages between urban regions and the water-energy-food nexus, citing examples in Los Angeles, California, US and Cape Town, South Africa.

49 SDG targets are contingent on shifting to sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Featuring a brainstorming exercise on how to put SCP at the core of the 2030 Agenda, the second session was led by Charles Arden-Clarke, 10YFP Secretariat and UN Environment, who noted that 49 SDG targets are contingent on shifting to SCP patterns. Although these linkages are beginning to be understood, he stressed that they are not fully operationalized. Martina Otto, UN Environment, applied SCP to food systems, identifying four limitations around nutrition, food diversity, food waste and pressure on natural resources and ecosystems. Addressing these issues, she emphasized, requires systems thinking and recognition of sectoral cross-overs.

The final session further-unpacked SCP vis-à-vis food systems, providing a snapshot of challenges faced in aligning actors, as well as potential incentives, tools and policy instruments that enable increased resource efficiency. Stephan Lutter, Vienna University of Economics and Business, presented the SCP Hotspots Analysis Tool, currently in the development stage, with a first functioning prototype available. He described this first attempt as aiming to include data on raw material extraction, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, land and water use. Then, he explained, by applying LCA coefficients, the tool links data from these areas to indicators such as mineral depletion, long-term climate change, water scarcity and others. The results of doing so, he noted, structures results around—and provide users with—country profiles, hotspot identification and comparisons to other countries, and a national data pilot system. Through such a tool, targets under SDGs 8 (decent work and economic growth) and SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production) can be “brought down” to ground-level.

Elisa Tonda, UN Environment, highlighted the joint publication, ‘Guidelines for Providing Product Sustainability Information,’ authored with the International Trade Centre (ITC). She flagged that product sustainability information—or the theory tools and systems that seek to guide consumers to make more sustainable choices on goods and services—is about the qualities of a product, rather than those of a brand. As a voluntary set of common minimum requirements, the Guidelines, she noted, not only serve to remove the potential for greenwashing, but also set the groundwork for higher ambition on engaging consumers to transform their daily behaviors. Tonda outlined 10 principles that ground the Guidelines, which she noted contribute to implementation of SDG target 12.8 and can serve as a base for national legislation on SCP patterns. [HLPF Learning and Training Workshop: System-thinking and policy planning for Sustainable Consumption and Production (SDG 12)] [IISD RS Coverage of HLPF 2018] [SDG Knowledge Hub Sources]

related events

related posts