Every month, the editorial content focuses on one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, highlighting its role and how it is intrinsic to advancing the entire 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

SDG planning calendar


Did you know that 1 million plastic bottles are purchased every minute and then discarded? One-third of all food produced is lost, wasted, or spoiled? Or that the fashion industry is the second highest user of water worldwide and the meat industry is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the world’s biggest oil companies?

By 2025, we could be dealing with up to 250 million tonnes of mismanaged waste – that’s almost equivalent to the weight of 2,000 cargo ships. Should the global population reach 9.6 billion by 2050 (a conservative estimate), the equivalent of almost three planets could be required to provide the natural resources needed to sustain current lifestyles.

For more information on Goal 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production –  including facts and figures click here.

Why Goal 12 Matters

World Environment Day

According to UN Environment (UNEP), understanding the different types of pollution, and how it affects our health and environment can help us take steps towards improving the air around us.

This World Environment Day, the UN agency is issuing a call for action, asking people to claim the Day by doing something to take care of the Earth. Learn more about the campaign and join us in promoting the Day with digital media assets from UNEP.

Need for Behaviour Change

“The environment is facing unprecedented perils, caused by human activity,” says the UN Secretary-General in his video message for the Day, stressing the need to “tax pollution, not people; stop subsidizing fossil fuels and stop building new coal plants.”

“When we circle back and see value in what we discard, everybody wins: we protect nature, build livelihoods and improve the health of people,” says UNEP’s Acting Executive Director Joyce Msuya in a blog, referring to the estimated 90 billion tons of resources that we use every year.

Satya Tripathi, Assistant Secretary-General at UNEP, talks about how unsustainable practices, irresponsible corporate behaviour and policy incentives are some of the fundamental causes of air pollution in an exclusive interview.

Join the UN Climate Action Campaign

From the food we eat, to the clothes we wear, each of us has the power to confront the climate challenge. To inspire behaviour change, the United Nations launched a global call to individual action, called the ActNow campaign, ahead of Secretary-General António Guterres’ Climate Action Summit (23 September 2019). The campaign uses a chatbot to recommend everyday actions to reduce our carbon footprints.

As part of the campaign, people will be invited to join a sustainable food challenge on 18 June. Participants can cook up dishes that are not only delicious but also good for the planet and good for us. Leading chefs from MAD community, SDG2 Advocacy Hub and Kitchen Connection will spearhead the challenge showcasing their culinary creativity on the UN’s global platforms. Look out for more information on our website.

Reducing Food Loss and Waste

World Hunger is on the rise; yet, an estimated 1/3 of all food produced globally is lost or goes to waste. 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.

We all have a part to play in reducing food loss and waste, not only for the sake of the food but for the resources that go into it. In addition to working with governments to develop policies to reduce food loss and waste, FAO is partnering with governments, international organizations, the private sector and civil society to raise awareness on the issues and to implement actions to address the root of the problem.

Together we can fight food waste – 9 easy tips!

How Can We Transform Our Food Systems?

There’s a growing need to transform our food systems to become more nutritious, more equitable and more sustainable. But how do we do this? FAO asks Dr. Lawrence Haddad, World Food Prize Laureate (2018) and Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), where he thinks we should make a start. Listen below.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has repeatedly said that it is time to end the fallacy that subsidizing fossil fuels is a way to improve people’s lives, and has called for the private sector to support the climate agenda.

As an example of how business can support the UN’s climate agenda, Portugal-based utility company EDP (Energias de Portugal) has partnered with the UN-backed Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) initiative to fund sustainable and clean energy projects in east Africa, notably in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and Malawi.

UN News looks at how clean energy has the potential to play a significant role in kick-starting sustainable development in the world’s emerging economies. Read the full story.

Rachel Kyte on Access to Sustainable Energy

Globally, over 80 per cent of the wastewater generated by society flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused. 1.8 billion people use a source of drinking water contaminated with faeces, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio. Unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene cause around 842,000 deaths each year.

Find out why UN-Water says that ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns must begin with the way we manage our most precious resource – water – the basis of life itself.

Water Action Decade

2018 to 2028 is water action decade. That’s ten years to advance sustainable development. Ten years to breathe new air into existing programmes and projects. Play your part and make a difference. Take action!

Exclusive Interviews

Intergenerational Injustice

In recent months, many young people have been demanding and leading changes around the world, from organizing Friday school strikes for climate to joining the Global Citizen movement to end extreme poverty. In collaboration with the Elders, a group of distinguished world leaders, we talk to Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland and UN Human Rights Chief, and Deon Shekuza, a young environmental activist from Namibia, on how the fight for climate justice belongs to everyone, no matter what generation you are from.

Read what they have to say. 

Michelle Yeoh, UNDP Goodwill Ambassador

10,000 litres of water are required to make a single pair of jeans. UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Michelle Yeoh gives us tips on how we can adopt sustainable fashion in our daily lives. Read the full interview.

SDG 12 In Numbers

The world continues to use more and more natural resources. A shift towards more sustainable consumption and production patterns will require strong national public policies, sustainable consumer behavior, and a transformation of business practices along global value chains.

In 2017, worldwide material consumption reached 92.1 billion metric tons, up from 87 billion in 2015 and a whopping 254 per cent increase from the 27 billion in 1970, with the rate of extraction accelerating every year since 2000. Read more facts and figures in UN DESA Voice.

Search for SDG Pioneers

The UN Global Compact is looking for candidates for its 2019 UN Global Compact SDG Pioneers! In the spirit of giving young people a seat at the table to build a sustainable future, this year, the SDG Pioneers programme is focusing exclusively on young business leaders, aged 35 and under, who are advancing the SDGs. Are you a young professional (35 or under) using business as a force for good to advance the Sustainable Development Goals? Submit your sustainability story here to be considered as a 2019 SDG Pioneer! You can also nominate someone else. The submission period is now open and runs through 12 July 2019.

Upcoming Events

1 June | Play it Out Concert against Plastic Pollution