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2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Janet Salem and James Lomax, UNEP, introduce the UN 2030 agenda for sustainable development and SDG 12 sustainable consumption and production.
So the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by all member states of the United Nations (UN) last year. There are 17 different goals and they all touch upon different elements of sustainable development. The first priority is ending poverty. But the second one is ending hunger, specifically. So sustainable food systems comes in at a very early point in the Sustainable Development Goals. But different aspects of sustainable consumption and production and sustainable food systems actually comes up in a lot of different Sustainable Development Goals. For example, there’s one on water quality. That affects, of course, the water that we use for agriculture and what we do to it. Also clean energy.
A lot of the energy is used for our food systems and so forth. Marine resources even. That’s another goal in their– sustainable management about natural marine sources.
I’m going to focus in on Sustainable Development Goal number 12 (SDG 12) in particular. That’s the one on sustainable consumption and production. So there we see a range of different targets that specifically relate to the way that we consume and produce things in our economy for our quality of life. And a lot of those specific targets are being addressed by governments and many of them touch on sustainable food systems. For example, sustainable public procurement is one of those targets and the government is actually a huge consumer of food. So there you could bring in sustainable food systems. Another one is corporate sustainability and the need to bring reporting sustainability information into company reporting cycles.
So there you could see the link to better information for consumers about the food that they’re consuming and how it was produced. So SDG 12 is, in my opinion, it’s the goal that keeps the other goals together. It keeps them honest, if you like. Now sustainable and consumption production and, let me read this now, because I think it’s very important that we have a very clear view of this, links economic processes to the environment and natural resources and provides policy instruments and framework to achieving more efficient production and more sustainable consumption. So all of this can contribute to better well-being and living within the Earth’s capacities.
So if you like, it’s the framework in which all the other SDGs can be implemented. So it’s also about decoupling. So there are three key things. It’s about decoupling environmental degradation from economic growth, i.e. how do we get growth, but without further damaging the environment? So how can we do better with less? It’s also about taking a lifecycle approach. Understanding, therefore, that a product, or an activity, has impact right the way through its cycle from cradle to grave. And, in that way, we can really understand, OK, so where are the actual impacts that we’re talking about.
This kind of thinking also, and we’ll talk about this heavily later, this kind of thinking also then fosters non-silo thinking– so it fosters collaboration. Thirdly, it’s about seizing opportunities and leapfrogging. So what are the mistakes that other countries have made? And, in that respect, then we can really start to understand, OK, fine– by understanding environmental degradation that’s happened before, maybe now we can work with many other countries and partners to not make the same mistakes. So why don’t we talk about why is it so important? Well, at the moment on the Earth we consume natural resources at the rate of one and a half Earths, or I think it’s even more now.
So, if we continue on this trajectory, by 2050 we will be consuming natural resources at three Earths per year. So we’re running into a natural resource deficit in actual fact. So this is very important that we start to understand that it’s not just about efficiency at the production level. It’s also about understanding that we have to consume within planetary boundaries. So SDG 12, what it does is that it recognises, therefore, that behaviour needs to change if the SDGs are to be achieved. And that is people and businesses.
In this video, Janet Salem, of the UNEP Regional Office for Asia Pacific, and James Lomax, of the UNEP Division of Technology, Industry and Economics, introduce us to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by world leaders in September 2015. Janet and James focus on one goal in particular, SDG 12: Ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns.
SDG 12 is key to driving global, regional and national efforts on sustainable food systems, including efficient use of natural resources. Janet and James discuss the importance of this goal for the wider agenda on transforming our world through sustainable development.
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Food and Our Future: Sustainable Food Systems in Southeast Asia

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