United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Brazil and Nicaragua

Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals
VII Meeting
Sustainable consumption and production
January 6th-10th
Statement by Brazil and Nicarágua

The importance of sustainable consumption and production for the Post-2015 Development Agenda can not be overstated. It is central to the transformative dimension of our work, and we need to bring it to the fore in our considerations. Without an in-depth, informed and open discussion on patters of consumption and production, and the differentiated responsibility and challenges they entail, our goals will be devoid of any real impact. So far, discussions have been superficial, unfocused, and detached from the social and economic realities of the world as it exists in the 21st century. It is our view that this subject needs to be treated by the UN membership as a whole, with better focus, more data and reliable technical support.

The issue of sustainable consumption and production has evolved over the last 20 years. In the Agenda 21 document, adopted in 1992, Member States recognized that "the major cause of the continued deterioration of the global environment is unsustainable patterns of consumption and production, particularly in industrialized countries" (Agenda 21, Chapter 4).

The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation of 2002 called for a ten-year framework of programs on sustainable consumption and production, which was adopted in the Rio+20 Conference.

Member States stated that "all countries should promote sustainable consumption and production patterns, with developed countries taking the lead". This quotation from the 10YFP is a way of saying that CBDR must apply to the subject matter at hand.

We agreed that greater productive efficiency should be pursued globally in order to reduce the environmental impacts of economic activity, but in so doing developing countries must not neglect the overarching objective of poverty eradication, through inclusive and sustainable economic development, which is an integral part of their right to development.

In our collective efforts we must strive to reduce and eliminate the cost barriers to efficiency, decoupling it from the expensive technologies involved through cooperation, special financing and treating the innovation processes involved more as a kind of public good; less as tradable proprietary assets. Efficiency should not be sold as a yet another capital investment opportunity but as part of our collective effort to improve sustainability on a global scale for the greater good of humanity. Of course this is easier said than done and a lot of new thinking is required.

Ultimately, all production is consumption-driven. In this regard, the report "Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Consumption and Production", recently edited by UNEP and the International Resource Panel, recognized that wealth is strongly correlated to energy use and greenhouse gas emissions from final consumption and provided us with some useful indicators on this matter.

The study demonstrates that emissions from highly industrialized and developed countries are much higher when they also considered in direct association with their respective patterns of consumption. In some cases, the values more than double.

The logic in this approach is in a way similar to that of combating the global problem of drug trafficking: you can't realistically expect to reduce the production of drugs if you don't also reduce demand for them at the consumers end of the equation. Similarly, there can be no realistic means of reducing emissions from production without reducing or changing the stimulus generated by patterns of extreme consumption which are more typical of societies living in the developed world.

It is clear, therefore, that we should discuss and seek to promote transformational change in unsustainable patterns of consumption where they exist, with the developed countries taking the lead and developing countries eventually following suit. This process requires fundamental changes not only in production systems, but also in the lifestyle choices and markets that drive them.

Due to the globalization of production chains, unsustainable consumption patterns in one part of the world has lead to commensurate increases in less sustainable production in other parts of the world, with developing countries bearing the brunt of this relocation of emissions from the North to the South. Developing countries in Asia have been particularly affected by such outsourcing" of greenhouse gas emissions and energy use, since economies from that region have become major producers and exporters of the industrialized goods and services consumed by the North.

Either in the form of a dedicated goal or as a set of targets and indicators, we favor an integrated approach that takes into account both consumption and production as well as the different challenges and responsibilities facing developed and developing countries.

Goals, targets and indicators on this issue must be universal in scope but need reflect, in practice, the differentiated responsibilities of developed and developing countries, as Member States agreed in Rio+20 Conference, fully respecting the overarching priority for developing countries of poverty eradication and social inclusion.

Means of implementation should be specifically considered. Financial commitments to strengthen the 10YFP Trust Fund and the establishment of an effective mechanism for the facilitation of, and access to environmentally sound technology, on an affordable basis, will be crucial in this matter. Capacity-building initiatives could also support developing countries, in particular those most in need, to absorb best practices on more sustainable production and consumption alternatives.

As to the management of chemicals and waste, we believe the issue deserves special consideration, taking into account its implication for human health, environment, and worker conditions. We support the sound management of chemicals and waste in developed and developing countries, by means of capacity-building, appropriate policies and regulations, and technology transfer. Trade agreements should not encourage or support unwarranted exports of waste and chemicals from the developed to the developing world.

While promoting new patterns of production and consumption, a new economic architecture should also be considered in order to promote values of social inclusion, equity and solidarity. Through this holistic and integrated approach, we could globalize a "sustainable lifestyle", with developed countries taking the lead, as a way to acknowledge their historical responsibilities, so we can encourage a different way of inhabiting this planet in order to preserve and live in harmony with Mother Earth.