WSSD - SUSTAINABLE CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION PROGRESS ON FOLLOW-UP Overview “The development of a ten year framework of programmes … to accelerate the shift towards sustainable consumption and production” was one of the key commitments made at WSSD in September 2002. It is a very broad, ambitious and challenging agenda. It calls for a complex web of activities, operating at different levels (global, national and local); different timescales (long-term goals, and short-to-medium action programmes); and different policy “cuts” (strategic, cross-cutting horizontal approaches, and sector-specific initiatives). In terms of the different geo-political levels: International - we are working within the UNDESA/UNEP network on the “Marrakech process”, taking an overview of a “10-year framework of programmes”. Europe - we are trying to secure more joined-up policy development at EU level, using the concept of SCP - though influence on the Commission‟s thematic strategies on resource productivity and waste/recycling under 6th Environmental Action Programme; the next steps on Integrated Product Policy (IPP); the Action Plan on Environmental Technology; and the proper linking of the EU Sustainable Development Strategy with the EU “Lisbon agenda” on competitiveness and innovation. UK - we have produced the UK Government Framework on SCP (published in September 2003) which brings the policy picture together for the future direction of work on SCP.
Key objectives The Government‟s aims include achieving: Greater resource efficiency (expressed in terms of decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation and the unsustainable use of resources). The integration of an SCP approach across all relevant policy areas, supported by a clear framework of SCP indicators and goals. Stronger market signals through Government action on sustainable procurement; economic measures and the price mechanism; and more effective forms of information on purchasing and consumption choices. Support for business innovation and the take-up of best practice in technology and management.
SDTF3-1003-2 UK Government Framework As a first step, the Government has recently launched a Framework for taking forward the SCP agenda. This represents the first major national statement since Johannesburg on how to approach the SCP agenda in practice. The hope is that it will help to advance the activity on WSSD follow-up at European level and beyond. The framework will also guide the Government‟s actions at home, linking with our other important and related commitments, such as action on climate change and waste. It does not pretend to provide all the answers - especially on the „consumption‟ side where the challenges are complex and diffuse. But it tries to set out a clear political, economic and environmental rationale for future policy-making and interventions in the market. Some key points in the Framework: It establishes the policy goal of “decoupling” economic growth from the adverse environmental impacts and unsustainable resource use that have historically accompanied industrial development. It establishes a preference for cost-effective measures deployed as early as possible in the life-cycle or supply chain, favouring the prevention of unsustainable patterns of consumption - rather than „cures‟ after the event. It identifies the important role of innovation and highlights the forthcoming work of the DTI/Treasury Innovation Review, which will embrace the environmental aspects of innovation. It sets the policy scene for stimulating the development and take-up of environmental technologies in pursuit of decoupling on the scale that‟s likely to be needed. An important next step is the emerging EU plan on environmental technologies, on which the Prime Ministers of the UK and Sweden have been urging ambitious action. The “route map” at the end of the document shows how an action programme can in practice be built up across the different layers of governance, timeframes and issues.
This is essentially a UK document though put in the wider global context. However it will be necessary for developing countries in particular to face up to their environmental responsibilities and to avoid making the same mistakes as the West in regard to resources per productive capacity. Next steps and key challenges The Framework refers to some short-term actions the Government is putting in hand. What views does the Task Force have about the key issues identified and how they should feed into the Review of the SD Strategy ? Do the Task Force have any specific proposals for how some of these issues might be taken forward, for example on consumption?
SDTF3-1003-2 Development of indicators for SCP, and their feed-in to the review of the UK‟s Sustainable Development Strategy. The forthcoming DTI/Treasury Innovation Review, which considers aspects of resource productivity and the environmental aspects of innovation. Review of Defra and DTI programmes in the SCP field, aiming to add value to our support for resource efficiency and for action by business. Collaborative projects with particular sectors or product chains as pilots to explore practical application of the SCP approach. The first of these has been announced and involves the Glass Industry with involvement of British Glass. Sustainable procurement. Actions to follow up the work of the Sustainable Procurement Group across central government; and specific initiatives under way on public sector food procurement. The sustainable products agenda. Commitment to look at proposals from ACCPE (Advisory Committee on Consumer Products and the Environment) on, for example, the role of impact assessment for products; the promotion of ecodesign disciplines; the profile of product issues within the business transparency and CSR agenda. Further use of economic instruments, for example as a result of current Treasury consultation on product charges and incentives in the energy field.
The Government‟s Framework has focused mainly on the conditions that shape consumption - the conditions under which business operates; the operation of the supply chain in serving and shaping the market in which consumption takes place; and the infrastructure that constrains or enables consumption choices. How should these key priorities feed into the SD Strategy? Which specific steps could be proposed to move forward the debate? There is also a debate to be had about models and paradigms of consumption in modern societies - and the extent to which social and cultural developments are now shaping the nature of market supply and the priorities for public infrastructure. With the publication of the Government‟s Framework we believe it is timely and productive to foster this debate at a national level. What role should the Government, the Sustainable Development Commission and other key players have in leading or facilitating it?
Defra/DTI October 2003