Promoting global action on sustainable production and consumption: 2002-2018

It is widely recognized that the roots of so many of our most serious environmental problems are rooted in modern society's production and consumption practices, policies and systems. This understanding was not only officially acknowledged by heads of state in Johannesburg in 2002 at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, but was identified as one of the "overarching objectives of, and essential requirements for, sustainable development". Further, government delegates agreed on the need to take action towards achieving this objective, calling for steps to "encourage and promote the development of a 10 -year framework of programmes in support of regional and national initiatives to accelerate the shift towards sustainable consumption and production". (i.e., "!0YFP" in UN-language).

Waiting for Delivery cover w marginISF then co-chaired the NGO Caucus on Sustainable Production and Consumption (SPAC Caucus) and the International Coalition for Sustainable Production and Consumption (ICSPAC), organizing discussion panels and workshops at the Summit and preparatory meetings, lobbying national delegations to support this initiative. As part of these efforts we published the report Waiting for Delivery: An NGO Assessment of Progress.

So, what has been done since that time, given the critical nature of today's environmental and social crises?

For those of us following as well as trying to help accelerate the process, the experience has been a mixture of emotions -- hope, enthusiasm, disappointment, frustration, anger, reflection, inspiration, and determination learn and apply what lessons have emerged over the many decades of struggle around this issue. A certain amount of patience, humor and faith is essential, considering the fact that we are ultimately dealing with the challenge of a radical transformation of the global economic system and its many national and local variations, currently dependent on fossil fuels, military spending, and an institutional acceptance of economic inequality. Clearly, changing the world's production and consumption systems is easier said than done.

It is now well beyond ten years since the 2002 call for a framework of programs to accelerate the shift. From 2003 to 2011 various UN agencies, NGOs, governments and businesses participated in what was called the "Marrakech Process" to discuss how to enact such a "framework of programs". 

In 2010, as part of the review and discussions on the Marrakech Process and 10 Year Framework held at the 18th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, ISF, in conjunction with the International Coalition for Sustainable Production and Consumption (ICSPAC), presented our report Still Waiting for Delivery. This brief history and overview of the process since 2002, was ISF and ICSPAC's review from a civil society perspective.