What is Sustainable Consumption and Production?

This platform consolidates knowledge on Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP), a far reaching topic whose importance for a sustainable future is highlighted by it’s long history and centrality to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda

So, what is Sustainable Consumption and Production?

In 1994, at the Oslo Symposium, Sustainable Consumption and Production was defined as “the use of services and related products, which respond to basic needs and bring a better quality of life while minimizing the use of natural resources and toxic materials as well as the emissions of waste and pollutants over the life cycle of the service or product so as not to jeopardize the needs of future generations”.

As time has passed, definitions have broadened, narrowed, and shifted.

Whereas Sustainable Consumption and Production may mean different things to different people, certain overarching concepts weave together broad areas of consensus to establish a holistic approach which transcends regions and sectors of activity.  Sustainable Consumption and Production is about systemic change, decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation and applying a lifecycle thinking approach, taking into account all phases of resource use in order to do more and better with less

Only by paying attention to both sides of the equation – consumption and production – will the type of transformative change that is needed, be possible.

The world is paying attention – Sustainable Consumption and Production and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda

In September 2015 UN members agreed to a new, ambitious sustainable development roadmap for the next 15 years. A list of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with an accompanying 169 targets to help benchmark progress, replaced the eight Millennium Development Goals.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Achieving Sustainable Consumption and Production patterns has been recognized as an integral part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is identified as a standalone

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 12)

and as a central component of many of the 17 goals and 169 targets agreed in the agenda. 

In highlighting the cross-cutting nature of Sustainable Consumption and Production, the 2030 Agenda has also made clear the need for robust, coordinated efforts to pool information, expertise and resources to scale up projects on the ground.  

Implementing a global commitment

The 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production (10YFP) is a global commitment, made by member states at the Rio+20 conference on Sustainable Development in 2012, to accelerate the shift to more sustainable modes of consumption and production in both the developing and developed world.  Target 12.1 of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda specifically calls for the implementation of the 10YFP. 

This online platform provides the space for a global community working to implement SDG 12 to connect with one another and coordinate action in order to implement the commitment of the 10YFP.  That global community is the One Planet network.

 Below is a brief history of Sustainable Consumption and Production, including the adoption of the 10YFP, and more detailed background information on the 10YFP can be found here. 

The main focus, however, of this platform, is to look at the concrete ways that the dynamic and diverse members of the One Planet network are rallying around a common approach to implement the commitments which countries have made. 

For your information – A brief history of Sustainable Consumption and Production

In 1972, the UN Conference on the Human Environment stated: “In our time, man’s capability to transform his surroundings, if used wisely, can bring to all peoples the benefit of development and the opportunity to enhance the quality of life. Wrongly or heed- lessly applied, the same power can do incalculable harm to human beings and human environment.”

Since then , a number of important milestones have taken place with regards to Sustainable Consumption and Production. 

Limits of Growth

1972: Limits to Growth“To achieve this change would mean that the globe’s people establish their status, derive satisfaction, and challenge themselves with goals other than ever- increasing production and ever-accumulating”    

Our Common Future Book

1987: UN World Commission on Environment and Development

“Perceived needs are socially and culturally determined, and sustainable development requires the promotion of values that encourage consumption standards that are within the bounds of the ecologically possible and to which all can reasonably aspire.”

Rio 92 logo

World Summit on Sustainable Development

2002: World Summitt on Sustainable Development“Encourage and promote the development of a framework … in support of regional and national initiatives to accelerate the shift towards sustainable consumption and production”

Marrakech Process

2003: Launch of the Marrakech Process on Sustainable Consumption and Production
A coalition of willing countries working to promote sustainable consumption and production, especially through policy guidelines and in emerging economies. 


2012: UN Conference on Sustainable DevelopmentAfter nearly a decade of moving ahead without formal agreement by all UN countries, the Marrakech Process 10-Year Framework of Programmes (10YFP) is adopted as one of the few successes of a controversial Rio+20 Summit.


2015: Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted
Goal 12 calls to “ensure sustainable consumption and production 

Reprinted from:

Leave a Reply