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We are facing deeply interlinked economic, social and environmental crises that stem, in large part, from current unsustainable patterns of consumption and production, and pose serious threats to human development. Health, education, equity and empowerment are all adversely affected. Humanity is now consuming more resources than ever, both per person and in absolute terms, exceeding by far our planet’s regenerative capacity.
But the many challenges confronting us should not stop us in our tracks. Instead, they should spur us to innovation and creative solutions. They should encourage us to scale up our efforts to adopt more sustainable economic activities and lifestyles, and the policies and measures required to bring about this transition.
The necessary shift to sustainable consumption and production (SCP) patterns will do much to improve the lives of some of the world’s poorest people, as well as protect the rich resources that nature provides. These are essential requirements for sustainable development. But we will not succeed in this shift unless we have effective policies in place, encourage social and technological innovation, and stimulate public and private investment. This requires the engagement of governments, business, civil society, consumers, educators, the media and all citizens. In other words, each and every one of us has a role to play.
Fortunately, these efforts have already begun. The Global Outlook on SCP Policies – a joint effort of the United Nations Environment Programme and the European Commission – identifies examples of effective policies and initiatives being implemented worldwide. It reviews 56 case studies ranging from global multilateral agreements and regional strategies to specific policies and initiatives. For example, Africa, the Arab region, the European Union and Latin America have all developed regional strategies for SCP, and the Asia-Pacific region is working on a Green Growth strategy