12 May 2011
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference on ‘Getting More with Less: the Sustainable Revolution’

 


A panel of environmental experts laid out ways to curb the consumption patterns of individuals and businesses in order to preserve the world’s precious resources, at a press conference held today at United Nations Headquarters.


A day before the close of the nineteenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, these experts stressed the need to create a governmental framework that would help elevate the consciousness of people, rich and poor, as well as businesses.


Tariq Banuri, Director of the Division for Sustainable Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said a framework was needed for the learning of best practices, the creation of common rules and practices, and the sharing of technology and information.  “… A huge amount of success can be achieved without affecting our living standards,” said Mr. Banuri.  “We need to create the framework.  To build the road.  A lot of people need the framework.”


Mr. Banuri stressed that it was essential to curb consumption as the planet’s population expanded and more people consumed more resources.  There were many methods to accomplish this goal.  Industries, for example, could tap into new technologies to reduce the excessive amount of materials and subsequent waste produced during their production processes.


Luis Flores, project manager of Consumers International, said many consumers were willing to change their consumption patterns.  Yet, a framework was needed around policies in order to make a significant change in the patterns of consumption.


Mohan Munasinghe, a professor of sustainable development at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, pointed to his proposal for a “Millennium Consumption Goals Initiative and Network” as a viable vehicle to focus world attention on the unsustainable patterns of consumption, production and resource exploitation that had led to many environmental crises.  Mr. Munasinghe, who is also Chairman of the Munasinghe Institute for Development in Sri Lanka, unveiled his proposal in January 2011 at United Nations Headquarters during preparatory discussions for the upcoming 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, or “Rio+20”, to be held in Brazil in June 2012.


One aim of these millennium consumption goals would be to address the unsustainable aspects of the lifestyles of the 1.4 billion people that make up the richest 20 per cent of the world’s population living in all countries.  He noted that many rich people live in poor countries.  “Instead of making the rich part of the problem, we would make them part of the solution,” Mr. Munasinghe said.


Sue Riddlestone, Executive Director and Co-Founder of BioRegional Development Group, said her organization had been working since the original Rio Summit in 1992 to explain that everyone can live sustainably within the world’s resources and still have happy lives.  Resources were being wasted.  “Sustainability is a possibility and has worked well on a local level,” said Ms. Riddlestone, whose enterprise works with partners around the world to demonstrate that a sustainable future was attractive, affordable and achievable.


BioRegional has developed “One Planet Living”, a cross-cutting approach and delivery framework to plan, deliver, communicate and mainstream sustainable consumption and production.  “The world is in big trouble,” she said.  Every country needed a plan and her organization wanted to work with Governments and United Nations oversight bodies to come up with solutions.


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For information media • not an official record