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What is Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP)?


From climate change to economic crises, the world is not short of challenges. To help alleviate some of the challenges we face, the global community needs to adopt more sustainable consumption and production patterns. This will help reduce the use of natural resources and carbon dioxide emissions as we move closer towards low carbon lifestyles and green economies.

SCP aims to do “more and better with less,” by reducing resource use, degradation and pollution along the life cycle of goods and services, while increasing the quality of life for all.

SCP is about promoting resource and energy efficiency and sustainable infrastructure while offering opportunities such as creating new markets and generating green and decent jobs, such as markets for organic food, fair trade, sustainable housing, renewable energy, sustainable transport and tourism. SCP is especially beneficial for developing countries as it provides an opportunity for them to “leapfrog” to more resource-efficient, environmentally sound and competitive technologies, allowing them to bypass inefficient and polluting phases of development.

One of SCP’s main goals is to ‘decouple’ economic growth and environmental degradation by increasing the efficiency of resource use in the production, distribution and use of products. SCP aims to keep the energy, material and pollution intensity of all production and consumption functions within the carrying capacities of natural ecosystems.

SCP uses a “life-cycle perspective” as a means of increasing the sustainable management of resources and achieving resource efficiency in all stages of the value chain. SCP paves the way to accelerating the transition to an eco-efficient economy, while turning environmental and social challenges into business and employment opportunities.

10-Year Framework of Programmes (10 YFP) on Sustainable Consumption and Production adopted at Rio+20 Conference

At the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012, countries agreed to adopt the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production (10YFP). The formal adoption of the 10 YFP was an important concrete outcome from the Rio+20 conference and is the cumulative result of 20 years of negotiations on sustainable development since Rio ’92, the multi-stakeholder Marrakech Process (2003-2011), and other SCP initiatives.

Resolution A/CONF.216/5 - A 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production patterns

About the 10 YFP
The 10YFP is the first multilaterally agreed framework for action on SCP. It includes an institutional mechanism to integrate policies and action on SCP, a trust fund to support implementation of SCP at the national and regional levels, and five initial programs. UNEP has been designated as the Secretariat for the 10 YFP.

The primary objectives of the 10 YFP are to:

  • Support regional and national policies and initiatives to accelerate the shift towards SCP, contributing to resource efficiency and decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation and resource use, while creating new job/market opportunities and contributing to poverty eradication and social development.
  • Mainstream SCP into sustainable development policies, programs and strategies, as appropriate, including into poverty reduction strategies.
  • Enable all stakeholders to share information and knowledge on SCP tools, initiatives and best practices, raising awareness and enhancing cooperation and development of new partnerships – including public-private partnerships.

The 10 YFP includes an initial list of five programs to be developed under the Framework, as well as a mechanism to further develop and expand this list over time to include other program areas. The initial list includes:

  • Consumer information
  • Sustainable lifestyles and education
  • Sustainable public procurement
  • Sustainable buildings and construction
  • Sustainable tourism, including ecotourism

Global SCP Clearinghouse

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is developing an online global SCP Clearinghouse, which will provide a one-stop hub dedicated to advancing SCP worldwide. The Global SCP Clearinghouse will be a dynamic information and knowledge platform that will help facilitate and trigger more innovation and cooperation towards SCP implementation. The SCP Clearinghouse will serve as the information platform of the 10 YFP and is open for all stakeholders to join.

The Global SCP Clearinghouse is meant to provide a platform to share knowledge, build synergies and strengthen cooperation at all levels, offering stakeholders tools to:

  • Browse regional and thematic communities dedicated to key SCP related areas or sectors, such as sustainable food systems, sustainable tourism, lifestyles, education and youth or sustainable public procurement;
  • Share and find information and initiatives on SCP around the world;
  • Build networks and identify partners with an interactive marketplace for SCP cooperation, working groups and forums;
  • Strengthen capacities with the experts / resource persons directory, a dedicated E-library and other tools included in MySCP, the members’ personal space on the platform;

The SCP Clearinghouse will be officially launched in May 2013, but stakeholders can sign up today to become a member and begin uploading initiatives. For more information, and to get a virtual tour of the Clearinghouse, visit www.start.scpclearinghouse.org.


SCP Life-cycle

When the world convened in 1992 at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, sustainable consumption and production (SCP) was recognized as an overarching theme to link environmental and development challenges. Two years later, in 1994, at the Oslo Symposium on Sustainable Consumption, the working definition of SCP was agreed upon.

Sustainable consumption and production is about providing goods and services to meet basic needs of the world without compromising the already burdened environment. The world needs a shift in the way goods and services are produced and consumed to avoid worsening development and environmental degradation.

To meet the Millennium Development Goals, the world needs to produce goods and services more efficiently, using fewer resources and generating less waste and pollution. Despite recent improvements in resource efficiency, developed countries economies continue to be based on resource-intensive consumption and production patterns, therefore, increasing the use of resources.

Ten years after the Rio Conference, world leaders signed the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, declaring that “fundamental changes in the way societies produce and consume are indispensable for achieving global sustainable development. All countries should promote sustainable consumption and production patterns.” At this summit, the world also called for the development of a 10-Year Framework of Programmes (10 FYP) to accelerate the shift towards sustainable consumption and production, and to promote social and economy development within the carrying capacity of ecosystems.

For more information on SCP, read the ABC of SCP: Clarifying Concepts on Sustainable Consumption and Production.

Sustainable Consumption and Production

What is Sustainable Consumption and Production?

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