SDG 12 - Responsible consumption and production

More people globally are expected to join the middle class over the next two decades. These socio-economic and demographic changes are good for individual prosperity but will increase demand for already constrained natural resources. Societies need to find just and equitable ways to meet individual needs and aspirations within the ecological limits of the planet.

The facts

According to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP, 2019), 2 billion people are overweight or obese, 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted every year, while another 2 billion people go hungry or undernourished. When it comes to water, only 3% of the world’s water is fresh (drinkable) and humans are using it faster than nature can replenish it. Consumption is not just about food and drinks, it is the use of any good or service. Energy consumption for example – if people everywhere switched to energy efficient light bulbs, the world would save US$120 billion annually. In addition, only one-fifth of the world’s final energy consumption in 2013 was from renewable sources.

Looking at production, the food sector accounts for around 22% of total greenhouse gas emissions, largely from the conversion of forests into farmland. Also, agriculture is the biggest user of water worldwide, and irrigation now claims close to 70% of all freshwater for human use.

The focus of SDG 12

Sustainable development goal twelve (SDG 12) aims at decoupling economic growth from environmental damage and natural resource exploitation. Responsible consumption and production are about promoting resource and energy efficiency, sustainable infrastructure, and providing access to basic services, green and decent jobs and a better quality of life for all. Their implementation helps to achieve overall development plans, reduce future economic, environmental and social costs, strengthen economic competitiveness and reduce poverty (UN Sustainable Development Goals, 2019).

Australia and SDG 12

Below are some examples of Australia’s best practice in addressing SDG 12.

  • At the systems level, supply chain logistics group Brambles, deploys a circular share and reuse system through its vast network. This model supports greater collaboration opportunities, reduces costs, carbon emissions, waste, and demand on natural resources.
  • In 2018, Sydney hosted the first Australian Circular Fashion Conference, focused on responsible fashion practice and supporting economic growth.
  • The Australian Government and the Australian Water Partnership fund the Alliance for Water Stewardship (Indo-Pacific) to work with the Council of Textile and Fashion and member companies to improve water stewardship through their supply chains to achieve sustainable and responsible production of clothes for the Australian and international market.
  • Yarra Valley Water’s Waste to Energy facility (ReWaste), in Victoria (opened in 2017), has the capacity to convert the equivalent of 33,000 tonnes of commercial food waste into energy that powers a neighbouring sewerage treatment plant, with excess electricity returned to the electricity grid.
  • The Australian Packaging Covenant encourages industry to take responsibility for improving the sustainability of its packaging and aims to change the culture of business to design more sustainable packaging, increase recycling rates and reduce packaging litter.
  • The Government has developed a National Food Waste Strategy in close consultation with industry, business, academia, other levels of government and civil society. It will support collective action towards halving Australia’s food waste by 2030 through the adoption of circular economy approaches and raising consumer awareness.
  • The states of Victoria and New South Wales, and the City of Brisbane, have introduced the Love Food, Hate Waste campaign that aims to raise awareness of avoidable food waste.
  • Australia is the largest donor to the Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative and the Extractives Global Programmatic Support multi-donor trust fund in the World Bank, helping resource-rich developing nations use their oil, gas and mineral resources sustainably and transparently, including with a consideration to gender equality.

LBS and SDG 12

LBS has several initiatives that link to SDG 12 as well. In November 2018, LBS organised the highly successful Innovation in Food and Agribusiness Forum in collaboration with NORTHLink. The forum explored what it takes to build innovative and sustainable global food production systems and agribusinesses (read more about the forum here).

We also offer a Bachelor of Business (Agribusiness). Besides developing skills to develop, finance, market and manage agricultural businesses, our degree develops responsible, engaged, innovative and work-ready graduates equipped to help farmers improve their food production sustainably and reduce the impact on declining resources (learn more about the degree here).

SDG Video

The video on SDG 12 is produced by LBS and shows Donna Burnett and Dr Leeora Black. Donna introduces the SDG and its targets for 2030. There are eight targets and include implementation of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on responsible consumption and production, efficient management and use of natural resources, cutting various types of waste, and responsible management of wastes and chemicals. It also calls for adoption of sustainable practices in companies and in public procurement. In the second part of the video Leeora, a Principal in the Sustainability Services team at Deloitte Australia, talks about the Australian Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act and how the act encourages business to use their influence to eliminate modern slavery in operations and supply chains.

Please enjoy the presentation.

If you would like access to the full video to use in your teaching, please contact Dr Swati Nagpal.

This blog is part of the SDG Series, a series that focuses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, in the lead up to the CR3+ Conference in October 2019.

More blogs in the SDG Series:

- An introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 1
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 2
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 3
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 4
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 5
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 6
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 7
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 8
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 9
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 10
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 11