PART 1: HOW CAN I CONTRIBUTE TO SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT?
Isn’t sustainable development an issue for politicians, governments and large corporations? My choices don’t really make a difference, do they? Study the reading material and watch the video “Introduction to Ecolabels” to understand the link between sustainability and ecolabels. You may also want to calculate your personal ecological footprint. For more information on the UN SDGs, visit the SDG knowledge platform.
How are sustainable development and consumption connected? See this video to get an idea. Notice that if you want to see the video with subtitles, you can click the subtitle button on the down-right corner of the video.
How can I contribute to sustainable development?
Task: Calculate your personal ecological footprint.
Link to the Global Footprint Network Ecological Footprint Calculator: https://www.footprintcalculator.org/
“Isn’t sustainable development an issue for politicians, governments and large corporations? My choices don’t really make a difference, do they?”
The Concept of Sustainable Development Sustainable development aims at ensuring: ”peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future”.United Nations
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) help take action by setting more concrete goals
SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production looks to ”ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns” (UN)
What does this have to do with ecolabeling? How do ecolobels help achieve sustainable production and responsible consumption?
The trouble in incorporating environmental concerns, or costs/ profits, into business is the lack of a common currency. Consumers don’t really know how much water or energy has been used or how much greenhouse gases and other emissions caused to produce it, nor are they aware of how poorly the workers are treated.
Increasing awareness of environmental and social issues has led to an increased demand for sustainable products. This, in turn, has increased the supply of products that are – or at least are claimed to be – sustainably produced
The ultimate goal of any business is to add value to the stakeholders – to make money. This added value is obtained through providing consumers with a product they will buy – choose over the alternatives – and setting the selling price on a level that will not only cover the cost of production, marketing, etc., but also bring return on the investment made. Often this return on investmentis often achieved by minimizing the production and other costs so the product competes on the market as the cheaper alternative.
In terms of sustainability and sustainable development, this has the trouble of not including the environmental costs (i.e. the environmental damage caused and natural resources used) and social impacts of production to these costs.
All in all, there is little economic incentive to reduce negative environmental or social consequences of production as long as the selling price is the determining factor in consumer choice. Supply and demand for any product or material go hand in hand. Increased consumer awareness also increases awareness in producers – sometimes even the other way around.
Sustainable and responsible production can be achieved through various activities targeted at the production process and the product qualities. There are several tools available for sustainable and responsible production, for example:
- environmental management systems provide a framework for improving environmental performance of an organization. Many of these are linked to a certification scheme.
- regulation forces production to certain set emission levels
- circular economy that aims at maintaining and increasing value of natural resources throughout the resource life cycle
- (eco)labeling schemes for guiding consumer choice
In other words: Ecolabels help consumers make more informed decisions and this forces producers to put more effort into the sustainability of production if they want their products to be in demand in the future
Read more on the SDG knowledge platform: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/?menu=1300