Knowledge for better food systems

UNEP discussion paper: Sustainable consumption and production indicators for the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Abstract: In the course of the ongoing discussions and negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda, a consensus emerged that current and future social, environmental and economic challenges are interlinked and must be addressed through an integrated approach. 


In the introduction of the outcome document of the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), The Future We Want, poverty eradication, the promotion of sustainable consumption and production (SCP) and the protection and management of natural resources are outlined as the "overarching objectives of and essential requirements for sustainable development".

In the same spirit of pursuing focused and coherent action on sustainable development, the intergovernmental Open Working Group (OWG) on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) put forward, in July 2014, a proposal comprising 17 goals and 169 targets. The proposal makes achieving sustainable consumption and production (SCP) an integral component of the SDGs.  SCP is reflected as a crosscutting enabler (in the form of both targets and means of implementation) for the achievement of many of the SDGs as well as in a stand-alone goal 12 on "ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns."

The purpose of this document is to assist Member States in identifying potential indicators for targets proposed under SDG 12 (“Ensure Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns”) and for related targets in twelve of the other proposed SDGs. This discussion paper aims to contribute to the development of an integrated, science-based set of indicators to monitor progress towards sustainable consumption and production (SCP) patterns which support achievement of the SDGs. The paper highlights a number of potential indicators which can serve for different goals and targets and which thus contribute to making the targets more actionable and transformative, by promoting an integrated approach to shifting towards SCP patterns and achieving the SDGs.

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While some of the food system challenges facing humanity are local, in an interconnected world, adopting a global perspective is essential. Many environmental issues, such as climate change, need supranational commitments and action to be addressed effectively. Due to ever increasing global trade flows, prices of commodities are connected through space; a drought in Romania may thus increase the price of wheat in Zimbabwe.

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