Change Must Start in Luxury-Focused Developed World, Say Delegates as Commission on Sustainable Development Takes Up Patterns of Consumption, Production

6 May 2010

Change Must Start in Luxury-Focused Developed World, Say Delegates as Commission on Sustainable Development Takes Up Patterns of Consumption, Production

6 May 2010
Economic and Social Council
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Commission on Sustainable Development

Eighteenth Session

8th & 9th Meetings (AM & PM)

Change Must Start in Luxury-Focused Developed World, Say Delegates as Commission

on Sustainable Development Takes Up Patterns of Consumption, Production

The Commission on Sustainable Development today began exploring a 10-year framework of programmes to promote sustainable consumption and production patterns, with speakers saying that change must begin in developed countries, where consumption was focused on luxury, whereas it was based on meeting basic needs in the developing world.

Meeting for its eighteenth session from 3to 14 May, the Commission begins a two-year cycle to review waste management, transport, chemicals, mining and the 10‑year framework.  During this year’s session, the Commission will identify challenges and problems related to those themes, while next year’s session will try to agree on a framework of programmes to address the problems.

Commission Vice-Chair Ulf Jaeckel ( Germany) moderated a panel of experts comprising Stephen Spratt of the International Institute for Environment and Development; Tariq Banuri of the Division for Sustainable Development in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs; Cleo Migiro of the African Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production; and Helio Mattar of the Akatu Institute for Conscious Consumption.

Mr. Banuri presented the Secretary-General’s report “Review of implementation of Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation:  a 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production patterns”, saying that national targets, coupled with incentives for citizen participation, could help ease the transition to sustainable consumption and production.

Mr. Spratt suggested that the world was already consuming and producing too much, and that growth powered by fossil fuels was not sustainable.  In a world of finite resources, people must produce and consume more efficiently, while sharing the fruits of their labour more fairly, he added.

Mr. Migiro discussed Africa’s progress towards sustainable consumption patterns, pointing to such projects as the Lake Victoria environment management programme and a study of the African import/export trade in hazardous metals.  African countries were also developing national and local programmes to develop eco-labelling — a voluntary method of environmental performance certification.

Mr. Mattar emphasized the need to couple growth with social equality and justice, whereby people would be urged to consider the individual, social and environmental impact of current consumption patterns.

In parallel meetings this morning, the Commission continued its discussions on mining and waste management.

During the discussion on waste management, moderated by Commission Vice-Chair and Rapporteur Eduardo Martin Meñez ( Philippines), panellist Ermanno Santilli of Florida’s Magnegas Corporation, presented his company’s solution for recycling liquid waste into “Magnegas”, which could serve as an alternative to liquefied natural gas for indoor cooking and heating as well.  A second panellist, Prasad Modak of India’s Environmental Management Centre, discussed how to minimize the dangers posed by hazardous waste.

The second thematic discussion, on mining, was moderated by Mohamed al-Mabrok Alahraf (Libya) and featured experts Gavin Hilson of the University of Reading, who addressed issues of artisanal and small-scale mining, and Victoria Lucia Tauli Corpuz of the Tebtebba Foundation, a former Chairperson of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, who called attention to human rights violations perpetrated by mining corporations against indigenous peoples.

At the end of the experts’ presentations, each panel held an interactive dialogue in which country delegates and representatives of civil society major groups — women, youth and children, non-governmental organizations, workers and trade unions, business and industry, farmers, indigenous peoples, the scientific and technological communities, and local authorities — participated.

The Commission will meet again at 10 a.m. Friday, 7 May, to continue its discussion on sustainable consumption patterns.  At 3 p.m., it will hold a thematic discussion on interlinkages and cross-cutting issues and means of implementation.

Second Panel Discussion on Mining

Mohamed al-Mabrok Alahraf ( Libya) moderated today’s panel discussion, which comprised Gavin Hilson, Lecturer in Environment and Development, University of Reading; and Victoria Lucia Tauli-Corpuz, Founder and Executive Director of the Tebtebba Foundation and former Chairperson of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (2005-2009).

Mr. HILSON provided an overview of artisanal mining in developing countries, describing it as a small-scale, labour-intensive, low-tech mining activity and highlighting related issues and priorities.  The benefits of such activities in developing countries were the creation of both direct and indirect employment, and a steady stream of foreign exchange in universal currencies such as gold.  By employing millions of people directly, and both skilled and unskilled workers indirectly, artisanal mining was an unrivalled employment engine creating employment opportunities in a time of economic strain, he said.

Land degradation was a top issue in considering the costs of artisanal mining, he said, noting that more than 95 per cent of small-scale miners operated without licences and in unhygienic conditions.  That made the areas in which mining activities took place “epicentres” of disease and other social problems, he said, pointing out, however, that the benefits of artisanal mining far outweighed the costs.  Changes in policy could serve as a “mindset change”, he said, stressing the need to look into the different sectors of artisanal mining:  those servicing the international sector — particularly the sale of diamonds and gemstones to major players — and those servicing local markets with a focus on the sale of industrial minerals and gold.  A holistic understanding of artisanal mining in developing countries would allow an understanding of its popularity in the wider world, he said.

The reasons for that were linked to wealth creation, he continued.  Many entrepreneurs had begun developing small-scale mines to prospect for diamonds and other gemstones as part of “get-rich-quick” schemes.  He also noted that mining was closely linked to sector growth, since high unemployment led to the creation of more small-scale mining ventures to create jobs.  Supporting such small rural non-farming activities was the key to promoting economic growth, he said, pointing out that farming activities were practised for family sustenance, while small-scale mining helped secure disposal income to pay for household needs.  Smallholder farming was not the solution to poverty, he stressed.

Financing for artisanal mining was given primarily to licensed miners, leaving the majority without funding, he said, emphasizing that illegal operators must become licensed in order to combat that practice.  Simplifying licensing systems, as well as limiting the associated time and costs, would help make illicit operators actually want to register.  A shortage of available land — most having been set aside for large-scale mining companies — meant that land for small-scale mining must be allocated early in the process, he said, adding that the hardships faced by poor miners should be dealt with by way of fair trade.

Ms. TAULI-CORPUZ said that, although mining was an essential element of a modern economy, the different kinds of mining did not have the same benefits or impacts.  Iron ore and copper mining provided raw materials for the production of basic needs, while gold mining produced a metal with limited productive uses, but whose extraction and processing were associated with some of the most problematic environmental dangers.  She went on to note that uranium mining was not a credible contributor to sustainable development, but an estimated 70 per cent of uranium deposits were located on the lands of indigenous peoples.  Uranium mine companies left behind huge amounts of “tailings”, or radioactive waste — everlasting and potentially deadly pollution that led to elevated cancer rates.

In Niger, uranium mining had contaminated groundwater and depleted fossil water aquifers, she continued.  That left the indigenous Tuareg communities with nothing on which to survive.  Many uranium mining companies had gone bankrupt after the depletion of the deposits they were working, leaving the aftermath for the State to clean up.  She said the only way forward was a global ban on uranium mining linked to an obligation on the uranium and nuclear industries to clean up after themselves and pay compensation to the victims of their activities.  As for the “consent” of indigenous people, she said that was largely their acceptance of toxic waste based on the desperation of their poverty.

She called attention to clearly documented evidence of grave human rights violations associated with some mining activities and the disregard for already adopted international minimum standards on the dignity and welfare of indigenous peoples.  Some violations involved dispersal, killings, desecration of sacred sites and the destruction of subsistence economies.  Companies involved in such activities included members of the International Council on Mining and Minerals, an alliance of industry leaders promoting best practices, she pointed out, adding that the industry had an appalling record of polluting river systems and poisoning adjacent forests.

Noting that aluminium, copper and steel production accounted for more than 7 per cent of global energy consumption, she said bauxite was won through extensive strip mining.  Whereas the processing of bauxite required 15 kilowatt-hours for each kilogram of aluminium, recycling of the metal only required 5 per cent of the energy input of primary production.  Yet large amounts of recyclable aluminium and other minerals were still lost in landfills, she said, adding that unacceptable and widely banned practices such as river and sea dumping continued unabated.  Moreover, the growing consumption of the resources needed to extract metals — mostly energy and water — as well as the pollution generated by the extraction process were major constraints to the sustainability of mining.

Drawing on the recommendations of the Permanent Forum, she said respect for human rights and the aspiration for social justice were essential pillars of sustainable development.  Mining corporations should work with indigenous peoples to develop operational guidelines on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in their operations and how to monitor its implementation.  Mining legislation that allowed unfettered mining operations should be revised, she stressed.

Calling on the World Bank Group and other international financial institutions to continue monitoring and reviewing their operational directives, she said they should also continue to safeguard policies pertaining to the rights of indigenous peoples, especially the right to free, prior and informed consent.  It was important to respect indigenous knowledge, practices and innovations, as well as customary governance systems and laws on the extraction of natural resources.  States, corporations and society at large should work to maximize reuse, recycling and substitution of metals and minerals in order to minimize mining-generated toxic waste.

Interactive Dialogue

Continuing yesterday afternoon’s dialogue, country delegates shared their national experiences of mining issues and challenges, stressing that, while the sector contributed to economic growth, it had many negative impacts on local communities, among them pollution, unsafe working conditions, overuse of water, energy and other resources, and violations of human rights, including the rights of indigenous peoples, all of which should be addressed.

Many speakers underlined in that regard the importance of good governance, including the strengthening of legal and regulatory regimes, and promoting transparency and accountability on the part of the mining industry.  In order better to contribute to sustainable development, participants suggested, developing countries dependent on extraction activities should establish, with donor support, refineries and associated industries.  To diminish the impact of mining on biodiversity and the environment, prior environmental assessments should be integrated into legislation so as to establish the accountability of mining companies.

Other participants shared their experiences of exempting land containing fragile ecological systems from mining.  Most emphasized that mining companies had a duty — often unfulfilled — to protect the environment from their activities, with one speaker suggesting that the firms be given incentives to move their operations to industrial sites, away from inhabited areas.  In order to limit the impact of mining-related greenhouse gas emissions, many speakers emphasized, metals should be reused and recycled.

Speakers said that, since mining could provide the benefits of employment, training, investment in infrastructure and royalties, countries should ensure that it contributed to poverty eradication.  There was also a need for reform and better regulation of the mining sector, including artisanal and small-scale miners, as well as for building the capacity of local authorities and training environmental workers.

Addressing the impact of mining on indigenous peoples, speakers noted that indigenous communities were often evicted from their lands and denied adequate compensation amid increasing poverty and insecurity.  They should be allowed to participate in legal reforms and, above all, to give free, prior and informed consent to mining operations.  Since mine closures often left communities without other sources of income, a community fund should be established to address that issue, one speaker suggested.

Speakers also addressed such issues as the working conditions of miners and the effects of mining on women’s health, especially pregnant women exposed to chemicals.  Noting that about 1 million children were still involved in mining activities, one speaker said Governments should play a leading role in creating alternative income possibilities.

Mr. HINSON, responding to questions and comments, said he favoured the fair trade scheme as used in some Latin American countries, because it guaranteed small-scale miners a fair price, and operations working under such agreements were bound to adhere to social and environmental standards.  However, the scheme might not be applicable to other areas owing to different dynamics.

Ms. TAULI-CORPUZ said more concerted efforts by States and intergovernmental bodies were needed to address environmental impacts, corporate responsibility and safety.  She suggested that the Commission invite to its next session the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises.

Contributing to the dialogue today were the representatives of India, Japan, Austria, Turkey, Norway, Kenya, Iran, Colombia, Jamaica (on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States), Egypt, Argentina, South Africa, Gabon, Guatemala, Thailand, Nigeria, Sweden, Canada, Russian Federation, Namibia and the United States.

Also making a contribution was a representative of the Observer Mission of Palestine.

Representatives of the following civil society major groups also made interventions:  non-governmental organizations; women; children and youth; workers and trade unions; and indigenous peoples.

Second Panel Discussion on Waste Management

Eduardo Martin Meñez (Philippines), Vice-Chair and Rapporteur of the Commission, moderated the panel of experts, which comprised Ermanno Santilli, Executive Vice-President for International Relations of Magnegas Corporation in Florida; and Prasad Modak, Executive President of the Environmental Management Centre, India.

Mr. SANTILLI, proposing a solution for recycling liquid waste, explained that Magnegas was a patented process used to transform energy contained in pollutants into gas, water and carbon.  An electric current was used to heat sewage, sludge, animal manure, biodiesel, antifreeze and other industrial liquids to 10,000º Fahrenheit, breaking it down into base elements and producing sterilized water and carbon as by-products.  Cars and other vehicles could be run on Magnegas as an alternative to liquefied natural gas, he said, adding that it had also been approved for cooking or heating indoors because it burned cleaner than gasoline.  Burning Magnegas also released oxygen, making it a unique gas, he added.  The company was working closely with the Government of China to provide a solution to that country’s sludge disposal problem.  The Magnegas process could potentially solve the global problem of water pollution, he said.

Mr. MODAK, discussing how to minimize the dangers posed by hazardous waste, which often required sophisticated treatment, said that one source of hazardous residue was the use of inappropriate technologies, many of which had already been banned, though some were still used in the developing world.  The effluent contained in sludge often contained hazardous materials, as well, he said, recalling that it had been estimated in 2001 that the world had produced 338 million tons of hazardous waste.  Extrapolating from that data, it was possible that the world economy had produced between 1 billion and 1.5 billion tons by now.

Trafficking in illegal waste posed additional hazards, he said.  Around 120 drums of mercury-contaminated waste had been imported into South Africa from the United States, and 48 per cent of the waste shipments from 17 European seaports were illegal under European Union regulations.  He said e-waste was also increasing by 3 to 5 per cent annually, noting that as much as 90 per cent of discarded computers from the developed world were exported to developing countries, purportedly for recycling, but many ended up in dumping grounds, leaching hazardous materials into the soil.  Managing hazardous wastes was expensive, he said.  Developing, monitoring and enforcing standards were important, as was locating proper sites for hazardous waste disposal.  It was also crucial to determine the right technologies to use for that task.

On a positive note, he said risk assessment of hazardous substances had grown seven-fold between 2001 and 2009.  Waste-to-energy conversions had grown steadily, and had the potential to provide 32 million people in Europe with heat and 25 million with electricity.  Changes towards more environmentally friendly consumer behaviour could carry that momentum forward, he said, suggesting that States consider the possibility of setting up “global pilots for action” on hazardous waste in order to tackle air pollutants, surface water pollution, soil contamination, and groundwater pollution.  Such actions could involve greater use of eco-design and cleaner technology, “greening” the supply chain.  On the regulatory side, he said States needed a more robust inventory of hazardous waste, better infrastructure for safe handling, the application of the “polluters pay” principle, and punitive action against unscrupulous traders in hazardous waste.

Interactive Dialogue

Several speakers said that in some fast-developing countries, waste collected faster than it could be disposed of due to rapid population growth.  Similarly, countries with a small land mass and a large population, like Japan, had serious problems finding adequate disposal sites.  On the other hand, promoting the “3 R”s – reuse, recycle and reduce — could create a market for new environmental businesses.  The Japanese private sector had more than doubled the number of “3 R” businesses between 2000 and 2006, and was now providing support to the regional “3 R” Forum in Asia.

Some delegates noted that waste processing plants were expensive, with one citing a budget in the multimillion-dollar range.  Other speakers said support loans were available from sources such as the World Bank, or, if they met the criteria, from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).  Other developing-world participants said their countries depended largely on funding from abroad.  The representative of Kazakhstan said his country was building and leasing equipment for use by other countries in the region in recycling household waste, including building materials.  However, eliminating radioactive substances remained an outstanding problem.

Other participants pointed out that the waste services sector was a big contributor of jobs to developing nations, where large numbers of people could be put to work as waste collectors.  A representative of the non-governmental organizations major group said that in Kerala, India, for example, a women’s self-help group was working to collect household waste for delivery to municipal collection points, thereby providing incomes to thousands.  Such employment opportunities should be expanded.  A number of delegates explained how State authorities, community-based organizations and civil society often formed partnerships to manage household waste disposal.  Several speakers said non-governmental organizations were involved in recycling farm waste.

According to participants, a few countries were working to extend waste services to population segments lacking access, which they saw as a good investment for health, in addition to meeting environmental targets.  Besides fulfilling the needs of marginalized populations, they were also focused on delivering waste services to small and medium-sized enterprises, which were sometimes left out of the loop.  Small-scale farmers, for instance, were logical end-users of technologies to extract biogas from animal manure, but the cost of investment and maintenance was prohibitively high, suggesting the need for more Government subsidies.

Waste minimization and management was a “bottom-line consideration” for many businesses, a representative of the business and industry major group said.  To become successful, producers needed to strengthen partnerships with retailers and Government procurement agencies, or other entities.  She stressed, as well, that both “high-tech” and “low-tech” solutions needed attention, underlining the need for policies to promote their global use.  A representative of UNEP explained that an open-ended global platform on waste management had just been launched to promote dialogue between business, academia, Government and civil society.

At the international level, the representative of Indonesia raised the possibility of establishing a multilateral fund for chemicals like mercury and other hazardous wastes, as suggested at the recent extraordinary meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Basel Convention, held in Bali.  Uganda’s representative asked the Commission to consider a way to regulate “disguised waste exports”, referring particularly to near-obsolete electronics sent from developed to developing countries.  The representatives of several developed countries assured the Commission that their respective Governments were pursuing ways to monitor waste exports.  One speaker remarked that improperly disposed waste could affect wild animals while remaining innocuous for human beings.  They included plastics that killed birds and sea mammals.

The representative of the Observer Mission of Palestine, said tens of thousands of residents in the Occupied Palestinian Territory were left to drink contaminated water because spare parts for sewage treatment systems were not allowed in.

Participating today were the representatives of Nigeria, Cambodia, Japan, Kazakhstan, South Africa, Morocco, Chile, Gabon, Senegal, Argentina, India, Sweden, France, Italy, Brazil, Indonesia, Pakistan, Zambia, Uganda, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Viet Nam, Libya, Germany, Republic of Korea and Kenya.

Also contributing were representatives of the European Union and the African Union.

A representative of the United Nations Environment Programme also made an intervention.

Other participants speaking today were representatives of the following civil society major groups:  farmers; business and industry; children and youth; and indigenous peoples.

Panel on Sustainable Production and Consumption

Ulf Jaeckel (Germany), Vice-Chair of the Commission, presided over the panel of experts, which comprised Stephen Spratt, Head of Sustainable Market Groups, International Institute for Environment and Development; Tariq Banuri, Director, Division for Sustainable Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs; Cleo Migiro, Chair of the African Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production; and Helio Mattar, President and member of the Board of Directors of Akatu Institute for Conscious Consumption.

Mr. JAECKEL, setting the stage for the panel discussion, pointed out that achieving sustainable consumption and production patterns was not only a matter of leaner production, but consumer habits must also be addressed.  The life-cycle approach, looking at products from inception to disposal, was a useful framework to guide people’s thinking.  States must, in turn, identify replicable projects and initiatives that could be implemented more widely, while pinpointing incentives to nudge citizens and corporations to do more to implement those projects.  States must also consider what shape a 10-year programme of work could take, he added.

Mr. BANURI presented the report of the Secretary-General, adding his own personal observations as he recalled the anxiety shown by developing countries worried that environmental discussions portended a break in their development.  To assuage their fears, a conference had been organized in Founex, Switzerland, where leading development thinkers had gathered to produce the Founex Declaration.  It divided aspects of the economy into three layers:  those that would improve automatically with development, like access to clean water for example; aspects that were worsened with development but need not do so if provided with better infrastructure and governance, like forestry management and energy-related activities; and areas requiring special support if “decoupling” were to be achieved, where economic growth could be had without exacerbating environmental outcomes.

The global economic and financial crises had raised some interesting questions, he said, including whether unsustainable production and consumption had contributed to the crises; whether sustainable patterns could contribute to overcoming them; and what examples of helpful policy responses were available?  He said there was evidence that relative de-linking was happening in certain countries where segments of the economy had begun using raw materials more efficiently as their economies grew richer.  However, that was not a global trend, he cautioned, and there was even less evidence that absolute de-linking had taken place around the world, in places where adverse environmental impacts showed an absolute decline with rising national income.

He said national targets helped ease the transition to sustainable consumption and production, such as improved waste collection, and the introduction of mechanisms that made it easier for citizens to participate.  The Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development had set up a process to help States develop the 10-year framework of programmes, he explained.  However, while it was easier to mainstream the programme in the developed world, the challenges were greater in developing countries.  Research on offsetting policies was often insufficient, demand for alternative technologies inadequate due to poverty, and institutions for designing and implementing policies weak.  Nevertheless, the framework was “solid”, he said.

Mr. SPRATT said that before moving forward, it was vital to grasp the scale of the challenge.  Economic progress in many nations had been threatened by the global economic and financial crises, and some of those badly hit had not fully recovered.  The conventional solution to an economic downturn was to increase economic activity, but it was increasingly understood that there could be no “business-as-usual” solution.  The planet’s carrying capacity had possibly already been breached, and perhaps the world was consuming and producing too much, he suggested.  Much of that consumption was concentrated in richer countries, with high-income countries outranking middle- and low-income countries by as much as six times, he said.

Pointing out that each Millennium Development Goal had environmental underpinnings, he argued that the concept of sustainable development must be examined anew.  Incremental change was not enough; the world needed to achieve absolute decoupling, he said, noting that the sustainable consumption debate focused on changing consumption trends in developed countries, yet such one-sided action could affect developing countries in unforeseen ways since the world was interlinked.  The solution lay in producing and consuming more efficiently, while also sharing the fruits of labour more fairly, he said.  That sentiment was captured in the notion of a green economy, though much of the detail still needed clarifying.  Ultimately, the goal was to build economic resilience and hardwire “biosphere protection” into the economic system, while respecting the principles of equity and social justice.

Mr. MIGIRO said African experts had held a series of meeting where key issues had been hashed out.  They had proposed key activities under the four key areas:  energy; water and sanitation; habitat and sustainable urban development; and industrial development.  Some big projects included a metal study that examined the African import/export trade in hazardous metals, in an effort to establish their impact on people’s health and the environment.  The African Roundtable was also working to develop national and local 10-year programmes, with Mauritius and the United Republic of Tanzania as pilot countries.  In addition, two cities — Cairo, Egypt, and Maputo, Mozambique — were trying to establish their own local programmes.  Already, those countries and cities were developing an eco-labelling mechanism and conducting research on the potential for “leapfrogging” in Africa, among other goals.

Mr. MATTAR focused his presentation on ways to change the current consumption model, and the conditions needed to encourage long-term change.  Consumption was central to people’s lives, “an exercise of identity”, he said, pointing out that changes in consumption patterns entailed a wholesale change in lifestyle.  From 1960 to 2000, domestic products and services had doubled per capita in only 40 years, so that people were consuming 35 per cent more than the planet was able to renew.  And yet, increased consumption had not produced more happiness, he said, adding that people consumed not to be happy but to “keep up with the Joneses”.  They derived social recognition through consumption, which fuelled violence in highly unequal countries.

He stressed the need to link the concept of growth to social equality and justice through “transformative consumption”, whereby people would be urged to consider the individual, social and environmental impact of their consumption.  They must be made to believe that their consumption patterns could change society and environment.  One example of a transformative act was to conserve water while brushing teeth, he said, pointing out that up to 1 million litres of water could be saved by turning off the tap and using one glass of water at a time.  At the same time, people must have some form of social support to change their behaviour permanently, he added.

Interactive Dialogue

Joining the discussion, speakers expressed support for the 10-year framework of programmes, urging that the Commission “spotlight” it for the duration of the current session.  The framework should support ongoing regional and national projects while taking into account the needs of all countries and preserving the right of all countries to follow their own consumption patterns.  The representative of the European Union said it should include a declaration outlining a common vision.  Several other speakers called for the development, through the framework, of programmes with specific objectives and time frames.  They said that launching the framework process now was timely, given the current demand for ideas on “how to green our economies”, and ways to curb unsustainable trends.

Some speakers underlined the need to connect the sustainable consumption and production movement to the Millennium Development Goals, perhaps embedding it in the structure of the United Nations.  Numerous others pointed to the Marrakech Process as a good starting point, saying it had demonstrated potential by helping participants develop good practices, mechanisms and tools, on cleaner production, for example.  Other possible areas for study were “mainstreaming” the movement into State institutions and economic infrastructure, making public procurement more “green”, product design and waste management.  Overall, they praised the Marrakech Process for having involved a wide network of stakeholders, although the representative of the non-governmental organizations major group reported “a lack of substantial dialogue” among civil society, Governments and businesses.

One speaker suggested that future work should be supported by science-based organizations, such as the International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management.  The representative of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) said the agency was already helping businesses in developing countries to clean up factories, in partnership with other United Nations entities.

Several speakers emphasized that change must begin in the developed countries, on the basis of common but differentiated responsibilities.  The Commission was a good venue to discuss how a results- and resource-oriented partnership could be developed, but the partnership mechanism needed review to ensure that it would be effective.  To that end, the representative of Nigeria called for a better understanding of what constituted a “better mix of measures”, noting, as in Mr. Spratt’s observation, that when the pie shrank, there was an incentive to “grab what you can”.

Mr. SPRATT, when asked how the concept of sustainable consumption and production could be used as a poverty-eradication tool, and how it could fit the goals of countries struggling to achieve their development goals, stressed the importance of technology transfer.

Mr. MIGIRO said initiatives to promote cleaner production had allowed companies to increase their competitiveness while incurring savings, but Governments must work hard to mainstream the concept before it could become an effective poverty-eradication tool.

Mr. BANURI suggested that States adopt tailored schemes, and pointed to the Fair Trade initiative as a model.  Sustainable cotton, for example, could be produced through non-polluting methods, and consumers were willing to pay a premium for it.  Well-designed, tailored schemes would ensure that part of the profit went back to pay for the farmer’s extra costs, he added.

The representative of China asked the panellists to identify the root causes of over-consumption and what could be done to overcome it.

Mr. SPRATT suggested that people were preoccupied with their relative social status, wishing to be seen as having “as much as their peers”.  The economy preyed upon that emotion, and perhaps it should not be so, he said, a sentiment echoed by several speakers.

Mr. BANURI said the Commission was the one forum where the international community could address such questions, if people were interested.

While some delegates discussed the various ways in which their respective countries were greening their economy, the representative of the International Labour Organization stressed that green jobs did not automatically constitute decent work.  For example, working in recycling and waste management was often precarious and paid little, he cautioned.

Other speakers were the representatives of Singapore, United Republic of Tanzania (on behalf of the African Group), Solomon Islands (on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States), China, Israel, United States, Guatemala, Indonesia, Iran, Nigeria, Cambodia, Canada, Switzerland and the Republic of Korea.

Delegates also heard interventions by representatives of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Also contributing were participants representing the following civil society major groups:  farmers; non-governmental organizations; and children and youth.

* *** *

For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.