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UN Global Goal 12: Ensure Sustainable Consumption and Production

Solutions Journalism Network

Goal 12 calls for consumers and producers to reverse current trends, decoupling resource exploitation from economic growth and ensuring sustainable practices. Unfortunately, material consumption continues to rise, posing a significant challenge to all of the Sustainable Development Goals. According to the UN, “worldwide material consumption reached 92.1 billion tons, up from 87 billion in 2015 and a 254 per cent increase from 27 billion in 1970.”

The UN’s targets for Goal 12 include implementing a 10-year program to achieve the following:

  • Reduce, reuse, and recycle to limit the amount of waste generated, noting the importance of reducing food waste in particular.
  • Achieve an environmentally sound management of harmful chemicals, paying particular attention to preserving soil, air, and water quality.
  • Encourage transnational companies to adopt and report on sustainable practices.
  • Eliminate market distortions such as subsidies to fossil fuel companies.
  • Develop and implement tools to educate individuals and monitor progress toward achieving sustainability across all sectors.

While companies and nations are gradually increasing their reporting on sustainable practices, the patchwork of metrics and policies leaves much room for improvement. Just last year, the United States announced a retreat from the Paris Climate Agreement, and only about half of the world’s countries have implemented national programs for increasing consumption and production efficiency. 

The stories in this collection focus on solutions toward building circular economies. From zero-waste shops in the UK, to a reusable container service in North Carolina, businesses are nudging consumers toward more sustainable practices by eliminating plastic and Styrofoam. The fashion industry is another sector where sustainable solutions are in vogue. Read on to discover how manufacturers like Levi’s are using new methods to reduce water  use. Others in the fashion industry are simply looking to upcycling—reusing secondhand clothing and fibers to reduce the amount of new textiles manufactured.

At BlueCity in Rotterdam, Netherlands, circular economy ("Blue Economy" is another terms for "Circular Economy") entrepreneurs are gathered in a former spa resort as they attempt to create a true circular economy in which one company's output is another company's input. 

Click here for more stories in the Solutions Story Tracker on ensuring responsible consumption and production.

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