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Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable Development Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

A growing global population with accelerating urbanization and a deteriorating natural resource base means more people to feed with less water, farmland and rural labour. Satisfying expected increases in water, energy and food needs means shifting to more sustainable consumption and production approaches, with agriculture and food systems made more efficient and sustainable.

A striking fact is that every year the world loses or wastes about a third of the food it produces while close to 800 million people on the planet are chronically hungry.

To feed the world sustainably, producers need to grow more food while reducing negative environmental impacts such as soil, water and nutrient loss, greenhouse gas emissions, and degradation of ecosystems. Consumers must be encouraged to shift to nutritious and safe diets with a lower environmental footprint.

Reducing food losses and waste is gathering increasing global interest and action, with governments, research institutions, producers, distributors, retailers and consumers all presenting views on how to adapt our systems to save food.

As an intergovernmental organization with expertise in facilitating multistakeholder forums, FAO is a leading actor in coordinating global initiatives, activities and projects on food losses and waste reduction, partnering with UN agencies, other international organizations, the private sector and civil society.

Facts and figures

  • 1.3 billion tonnes of food are lost or wasted every year while almost 800 million people go hungry.
  • Overconsumption of food is both detrimental to our health and the environment.
  • Land degradation, declining soil fertility, unsustainable water use, overfishing and marine environment degradation are all lessening the ability of the natural resource base to supply food.
  • Man is polluting water faster than nature can recycle and purify water in rivers and lakes.
  • More than 1 billion people still do not have access to fresh water.
  • Households consume 29 per cent of global energy and consequently contribute to 21 per cent of resultant CO2 emissions.
  • One-fifth of the world’s final energy consumption in 2013 was from renewables.

SDG12 Targets

  1. Implement the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production, all countries taking action, with developed countries taking the lead, taking into account the development and capabilities of developing countries.
  2. By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources.
  3. By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.
  4. By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment.
  5. By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse.
  6. Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle.
  7. Promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities.
  8. By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature.

a. Support developing countries to strengthen their scientific and technological capacity to move towards more sustainable patterns of consumption and production.

b. Develop and implement tools to monitor sustainable development impacts for sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products.

c. Rationalize inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption by removing market distortions, in accordance with national circumstances, including by restructuring taxation and phasing out those harmful subsidies, where they exist, to reflect their environmental impacts, taking fully into account the specific needs and conditions of developing countries and minimizing the possible adverse impacts on their development in a manner that protects the poor and the affected communities.

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