Tuesday, 3 July 2007

“2021 is too late”

The following paper is adopted from the presentation by Uchita de Zoysa as the NGO Forum Representative to the Multi-Stakeholder Panel of the 3rd International Expert Meeting on the 10 year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production (Stockholm, Sweden - 26-29 June 2007)
( full presentation @ http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/sdissues/consumption/Marrakech/ngo.pdf )

Sustainable consumption and production commitments are needed now!
(by Uchita de Zoysa)

The recent UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment concludes that sixty percent (60%) of the world's ecosystem services-the consequences of which are being borne disproportionately by the poor-are highly degraded or failing, and that further degradation of these ecosystems is a barrier to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

In 1992 Mr. Maurice Strong, the secretary general of UNCED, announced that that the earth summit would be the last chance to save the earth. After five years (05) of the Marrakech process for the 10 Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production, we are now compromising on a set of voluntary commitments to be achieved by the year of 2021. The irony of this is position is that we are now reversing our urgency to save the earth after 49 years from UNCHE in Stockholm (1972), 29 years from UNCED in Rio (1992) and 19 years from WSSD in Johannesburg (2002).

We have to once again stress the urgency of all major actors – especially government – in moving forward with SCP, and are frustrated with the 2021 timeline that is being proposed for the Framework by the United Nations. We are at a point in history where the biophysical reality has to guide our action agenda, rather than the UN calendar. From the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment to the IPCC report we are overshooting the carrying capacity of the planet with the result of global collapse in fisheries, climate, freshwater availability, spread of disease...SCP is an urgent priority and we want to see the commitments to agenda 21 made by the 191 countries in 1992

We as international SCP activists would like to put our demands forwards as below;
1. We need to go beyond the focus on over consumption and the issues of more than half of the humanity that are under consuming (and are in poverty)
2. We need to go beyond the attempts of greening of individual consumer behavior and attempt to reduce demand for resources are in the hands of industry and governments.
3. We need to go beyond improving efficiency (technological innovation) in our SCP process and need to think about deep structural changes.

We would like to also put forward a series of recommendations to save the international SCP agenda;

Recommendation 01: Identify specific programs of the 10 year framework
Clearly define and Identify targets, timetables, strategies and action needed to reverse worsening social and ecological trends by 2021.
1. Define the broader objectives of an SCP framework to achieve “wellbeing” of all people on earth, with clear goal that ensures quality of life
2. The 10YFP needs to clearly address issue of “equity” in consumption and production opportunities for all nations and people.
3. The 1st background paper #1 (as an outline draft needs) to be formulated into a comprehensive 10YFP through an regional/international and stakeholder consultation process by Marrakech-4 (in 02 years in 2009 for the Mrrakech-4 and prior 2010/11 CSD)

Recommendation 02: Review progress since Rio92
Organize a comprehensive multi-stakeholder review of efforts, success and failure to implement the Agenda 21 objectives and action commitments on production and consumption agreed to in 1992 by governments.
1. Conduct a full scale review of global commitments on SCP made since UNCED in Rio92 – eg; Agenda 21, WSSD JPOI, UN Consumer Protection Guidelines (Section G on SC) etc.
2. A full report to be available for the 2010/11 CSD cycle.
3. Identify and provide analyses of some of the major obstacles and difficulties faced by these efforts.
4. Engage stakeholder groups through consultation and other activities to provide a diversity of relevant perspectives and concerns as part of their input in the review.

Recommendation 03: Identify and Analysis the national barriers to develop national SCP strategies
To engage all governments effectively to follow-up on the recommendation of WSSDs JPOI (Johannesburg Plan of Implementation) “to develop a 10YFP in support of regional and national initiatives to accelerate the shift towards SCP”
1. National SCP Guideline development process needs to have a greater regional government and stakeholder engagement
2. Governments need to include all stakeholders in formulating the Strategy as well as in the monitoring & evaluation.
3. National SCP policies should move society towards a establishing at a minimum - sufficiency economies with adequate integration of ecological fiscal reform, eco-effective production, etc.
4. Go beyond developing guidelines for NAPs on SCP and assist governments to develop and implement national policies and strategies on SCP, and do so by 2010/11 CSD cycle.

Recommendation 04: Develop operational guidelines for the Marrakech Task Forces
Develop a clear set of guidelines for all existing and newly proposed Marrakech Task Forces on SCP to ensure an inclusive and transparent engagement of governments and stakeholders.
1. UNEP/UNDESA needs to be centrally involved in the monitoring and evaluation the progress
2. All task forces should involve as many as possible governments in equal participation (not to limit it to funded programme agendas).
3. We encourage the UN to advise task force convenors to invite NGOs and other relevant stakeholders as members

Recommendation 05: Establish a global dialogue on SCP

Help establish a broader global dialogue on sustainable production and consumption with greater outreach towards all nations and stakeholders.

1st draft of the 10YFP as a living document for 2007-2010 wishers foster a participatory process in drafting, seeking common positions and agreements and broad support and ownership (pg 8). Then we propose;
i. Plan and implement a global scale dialogue engaging all governments and stakeholders in a national to global level review and recommendations process
ii. UNEP/UNDESA is commended for organizing this Stakeholder Forum in the outset of the Stockholm meeting and this should inspire the Marrakech process establish a “Global Stakeholder Forum on SCP” process as part of the consensus building for the 10YFP
iii. Involve stakeholders into consultative and decision making structures.

Recommendation 06: Define corporate accountability
Establish a process to define “corporate accountability,” in contrast to “corporate social responsibility”, with a practical assessment of the different contributions of voluntary and regulatory approaches in their transition to sustainable production and consumption.
1. Identify mechanism to clearly define and provide guidelines for corporate accountability.
2. Engage stakeholders for independent monitoring, accountability assurance and transparency reporting.
3. Study and report on regulatory and voluntary efforts to make advertising practices more socially and environmentally responsible and accountable.

Role of NGOs
1. Representing the interest of consumers and people in general (eg: consumer surveys, comparative product testing, consumer rights litigation, awareness creation and education, etc.)
2. Promoting the equity debate in distribution of resources to consumption opportunities (eg: access to resources, rights campaigning, consumption opportunities, fair trade, food security, etc.)
3. Pushing the under consumption issues of the global South, while maintaining the pressure on over consumption (eg: need for adequate consumption, poverty eradication, limits to greening the consumer, limits to green technology, etc.)
4. Advocating/Agitating for corporate accountability (eg: CSR as a promotional tool, CSR to replace accountability, making the dark visible, etc.)
5. Partnering knowledge and research processes (eg; partnering academics for knowledge to action research, partnering UN agencies for policy research, conducting community level research, etc.)
6. Lobbying for governmental action for “NAP on SCP” (eg: informer and awareness creators of the Marrakech process, acting as path maker for policy processes, guiding NAP processes, etc.)

Engaging Stakeholders
1. Equity - in expert consultations, content providing and process determination
2. Transparency & Openness – in selection of participants and for real expertise to have opportunities to contribute
3. Collectiveness & Inclusiveness – is important from consultation to conclusion deriving and to ensure that the consultation is heard for action and not because stakeholder consultation has to be exercised democratic display.

I would like to leave you with a vision for the 10YFP on SCP;

“One earth - one humanity in diversity and equitable opportunities for sustainable consumption and production for sustainable futures for all”

About the speaker:
Uchita de Zoysa is Executive Director of the Centre for Environment and Development based in Sri Lanka. He has been involved in the sustainable development global dialogue since the preparations of the Rio 92 Earth Summit, contributing to many major UN summits and other international conferences and sitting on many stakeholder steering committees including the UNCSD NGO Steering Committee. In 2004, he wrote the Asian Review on Sustainable Consumption and was an Advisory Board Member of UNEP’s SC.Asia Project and the "Guidance Manual on Advancing Sustainable Consumption in Asia”. Currently, he is a member of the SPACES International Working Group, and the SCORE Scientific Advisory Board. He is a free thinker and advocate for a better world.