SDG 12 Courses: Responsible Consumption and Production

Sustainable consumption and production means promoting energy efficiency, resources and sustainable infrastructure. It also means providing people with access to decent jobs, basic services and a better quality of life. Responsible consumption and production reduces poverty, economic, environmental and social costs, and helps achieve overall development plans, and strengthen economic competitiveness. Nevertheless, there are still many challenges and issues related to responsible consumption and production. It has been estimated that if the world’s population reaches 9.6 billion by 2050 there will be a need for equivalent of three planets to provide the natural resources needed to meet everyone’s needs. Currently, the most material consumption of natural resources takes place in Eastern Asia, while many countries in the world are continuing to address challenges of polluted air, water and soil.

Simple changes in some aspects of consumption can have a big impacts on societies. The statistics show that around one third of the food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted each year. Furthermore, consumers consume 29 per cent of global energy in their households and in this way contribute to 21 per cent of total CO2 emissions. One of the issues is also water pollution since it is being polluted faster than nature can recycle and purify water in lakes and rivers. There is a need for an urgent action to secure that the present material needs do not lead to over-extraction of resources and further degradation of the environment. Therefore, the goal is to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns by 2030.

Currently, everyone is responsible for finding solutions that will enable sustainable production and consumption. Businesses should find solutions to better understand both social and environmental impacts of services and products that are needed and how these products affect the lifestyles of consumers. As the first crucial step, businesses should identify the ‘’hot spots’’ in the value chain in which interventions have the most potential to improve social and economic impact of the system as a whole. Businesses can also work on designing solutions that will inspire and enable people to lead more sustainable lifestyles. In addition, people can also contribute by reducing their waste and by being thoughtful about what they buy and whenever possible choose sustainable option. Waste can be reduced in many ways, from people ensuring that they do not throw away food to reducing the consumption of plastic. Simply by carrying a reusable bag or not using a plastic straw is good way that every human being contributes on their part on a daily basis.


The content of this publication/website has not been approved by the United Nations and does not reflect the views of the United Nations or its officials or Member States.