NOTE:          This is a final, advanced version of a
               chapter of Agenda 21, as adopted by the
               Plenary in Rio de Janeiro, on June 14, 1992.
               This document will be further edited,
               translated into the official languages, and
               published by the United Nations for the
               General Assembly this autumn.

4.1.  This chapter contains the following programme areas:

     (a)  Focusing on unsustainable patterns of production and

     (b)  Developing national policies and strategies to
encourage changes in unsustainable consumption patterns.

4.2.  Since the issue of changing consumption patterns is very
broad, it is addressed in several parts of Agenda 21, notably
those dealing with energy, transportation and wastes, and in the
chapters on economic instruments and the transfer of technology.
The present chapter should also be read in conjunction with
chapter 5 (Demographic dynamics and sustainability).

                        PROGRAMME AREAS

 A.  Focusing on unsustainable patterns of production
                  and consumption

Basis for action

4.3.  Poverty and environmental degradation are closely
interrelated.  While poverty results in certain kinds of
environmental stress, the major cause of the continued
deterioration of the global environment is the unsustainable
pattern of consumption and production, particularly in
industrialized countries, which is a matter of grave concern,
aggravating poverty and imbalances.

4.4.  Measures to be undertaken at the international level for
the protection and enhancement of the environment must take fully
into account the current imbalances in the global patterns of
consumption and production.

4.5.  Special attention should be paid to the demand for natural
resources generated by unsustainable consumption and to the
efficient use of those resources consistent with the goal of
minimizing depletion and reducing pollution.  Although
consumption patterns are very high in certain parts of the world,
the basic consumer needs of a large section of humanity are not
being met.  This results in excessive demands and unsustainable
lifestyles among the richer segments, which place immense stress
on the environment.  The poorer segments, meanwhile, are unable
to meet food, health care, shelter and educational needs.
Changing consumption patterns will require a multipronged
strategy focusing on demand, meeting the basic needs of the poor,
and reducing wastage and the use of finite resources in the
production process.

4.6.  Growing recognition of the importance of addressing
consumption has also not yet been matched by an understanding of
its implications.  Some economists are questioning traditional
concepts of economic growth and underlining the importance of
pursuing economic objectives that take account of the full value
of natural resource capital.  More needs to be known about the
role of consumption in relation to economic growth and population
dynamics in order to formulate coherent international and
national policies.


4.7.  Action is needed to meet the following broad objectives:

     (a)  To promote patterns of consumption and production that
reduce environmental stress and will meet the basic needs of

     (b)  To develop a better understanding of the role of
consumption and how to bring about more sustainable consumption


(a)  Management-related activities

     Adopting an international approach to achieving sustainable
     consumption patterns

4.8.  In principle, countries should be guided by the following
basic objectives in their efforts to address consumption and
lifestyles in the context of environment and development:

     (a)  All countries should strive to promote sustainable
consumption patterns;

     (b)  Developed countries should take the lead in achieving
sustainable consumption patterns;

     (c)  Developing countries should seek to achieve sustainable
consumption patterns in their development process, guaranteeing
the provision of basic needs for the poor, while avoiding those
unsustainable patterns, particularly in industrialized countries,
generally recognized as unduly hazardous to the environment,
inefficient and wasteful, in their development processes.  This
requires enhanced technological and other assistance from
industrialized countries.

4.9.  In the follow-up of the implementation of Agenda 21 the
review of progress made in achieving sustainable consumption
patterns should be given high priority.

(b)  Data and information

     Undertaking research on consumption

4.10.  In order to support this broad strategy, Governments,
and/or private research and policy institutes, with the
assistance of regional and international economic and
environmental organizations, should make a concerted effort to:

     (a)  Expand or promote databases on production and
consumption and develop methodologies for analysing them;

     (b)  Assess the relationship between production and
consumption, environment, technological adaptation and
innovation, economic growth and development, and demographic

     (c)  Examine the impact of ongoing changes in the structure
of modern industrial economies away from material-intensive
economic growth;

     (d)  Consider how economies can grow and prosper while
reducing the use of energy and materials and the production of
harmful materials;

     (e)  Identify balanced patterns of consumption worldwide
which the Earth can support in the long term.

     Developing new concepts of sustainable economic growth and

4.11.  Consideration should also be given to the present concepts
of economic growth and the need for new concepts of wealth and
prosperity which allow higher standards of living through changed
lifestyles and are less dependent on the Earth's finite resources
and more in harmony with the Earth's carrying capacity.  This
should be reflected in the evolution of new systems of national
accounts and other indicators of sustainable development.

(c)  International cooperation and coordination

4.12.  While international review processes exist for examining
economic, development and demographic factors, more attention
needs to be paid to issues related to consumption and production
patterns and sustainable lifestyles and environment.

4.13.  In the follow-up of the implementation of Agenda 21,
reviewing the role and impact of unsustainable production and
consumption patterns and lifestyles and their relation to
sustainable development should be given high priority.

Financing and cost evaluation

4.14.  The Conference secretariat has estimated that
implementation of this programme is not likely to require
significant new financial resources.

  B.  Developing national policies and strategies to encourage
              changes in unsustainable consumption patterns

Basis for action

4.15.  Achieving the goals of environmental quality and
sustainable development will require efficiency in production and
changes in consumption patterns in order to emphasize
optimization of resource use and minimization of waste.  In many
instances, this will require reorientation of existing production
and consumption patterns that have developed in industrial
societies and are in turn emulated in much of the world.

4.16.  Progress can be made by strengthening positive trends and
directions that are emerging, as part of a process aimed at
achieving significant changes in the consumption patterns of
industries, Governments, households and individuals.


4.17.  In the years ahead, Governments, working with appropriate
organizations, should strive to meet the following broad

     (a)  To promote efficiency in production processes and
reduce wasteful consumption in the process of economic growth,
taking into account the development needs of developing

     (b)  To develop a domestic policy framework that will
encourage a shift to more sustainable patterns of production and

     (c)  To reinforce both values that encourage sustainable
production and consumption patterns and policies that encourage
the transfer of environmentally sound technologies to developing


(a)  Encouraging greater efficiency in the use of energy and

4.18.  Reducing the amount of energy and materials used per unit
in the production of goods and services can contribute both to
the alleviation of environmental stress and to greater economic
and industrial productivity and competitiveness.  Governments, in
cooperation with industry, should therefore intensify efforts to
use energy and resources in an economically efficient and
environmentally sound manner by:

     (a)  Encouraging the dissemination of existing
environmentally sound technologies;

     (b)  Promoting research and development in environmentally
sound technologies;

     (c)  Assisting developing countries to use these
technologies efficiently and to develop technologies suited to
their particular circumstances;

     (d)  Encouraging the environmentally sound use of new and
renewable sources of energy;

     (e)  Encouraging the environmentally sound and sustainable
use of renewable natural resources.

(b)  Minimizing the generation of wastes

4.19.  At the same time, society needs to develop effective ways
of dealing with the problem of disposing of mounting levels of
waste products and materials.  Governments, together with
industry, households and the public, should make a concerted
effort to reduce the generation of wastes and waste products by:

     (a)  Encouraging recycling in industrial processes and at
the consumed level;

     (b)  Reducing wasteful packaging of products;

     (c)  Encouraging the introduction of more environmentally
sound products.

(c)  Assisting individuals and households to make environmentally
     sound purchasing decisions

4.20.  The recent emergence in many countries of a more
environmentally conscious consumer public, combined with
increased interest on the part of some industries in providing
environmentally sound consumer products, is a significant
development that should be encouraged.  Governments and
international organizations, together with the private sector,
should develop criteria and methodologies for the assessment of
environmental impacts and resource requirements throughout the
full life cycle of products and processes.  Results of those
assessments should be transformed into clear indicators in order
to inform consumers and decision makers.

4.21.  Governments, in cooperation with industry and other
relevant groups, should encourage expansion of environmental
labelling and other environmentally related product information
programmes designed to assist consumers to make informed choices.

4.22.  They should also encourage the emergence of an informed
consumer public and assist individuals and households to make
environmentally informed choices by:

     (a)  Providing information on the consequences of
consumption choices and behaviour so as to encourage demand for
environmentally sound products and use of products;

     (b)  Making consumers aware of the health and environmental
impact of products, through such means as consumer legislation
and environmental labelling;

     (c)  Encouraging specific consumer-oriented programmes, such
as recycling and deposit/refund systems.

(d)  Exercising leadership through government purchasing

4.23.  Governments themselves also play a role in consumption,
particularly in countries where the public sector plays a large
role in the economy and can have a considerable influence on both
corporate decisions and public perceptions.  They should
therefore review the purchasing policies of their agencies and
departments so that they may improve, where possible, the
environmental content of government procurement policies, without
prejudice to international trade principles.

(e)  Moving towards environmentally sound pricing

4.24.  Without the stimulus of prices and market signals that
make clear to producers and consumers the environmental costs of
the consumption of energy, materials and natural resources and
the generation of wastes, significant changes in consumption and
production patterns seem unlikely to occur in the near future.

4.25.  Some progress has begun in the use of appropriate economic
instruments to influence consumer behaviour.  These instruments
include environmental charges and taxes, deposit/refund systems,
etc.  This process should be encouraged in the light of
country-specific conditions.

(f)  Reinforcing values that support sustainable consumption

4.26.  Governments and private-sector organizations should
promote more positive attitudes towards sustainable consumption
through education, public awareness programmes and other means,
such as positive advertising of products and services that
utilize environmentally sound technologies or encourage
sustainable production and consumption patterns.  In the review
of the implementation of Agenda 21, an assessment of the progress
achieved in developing these national policies and strategies
should be given due consideration.

Means of implementation

4.27.  This programme is concerned primarily with changes in
unsustainable patterns of consumption and production and values
that encourage sustainable consumption patterns and lifestyles.
It requires the combined efforts of Governments, consumers and
producers.  Particular attention should be paid to the
significant role played by women and households as consumers and
the potential impacts of their combined purchasing power on the

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Note 415      A21/5 Sustainability
unced                                   6:42 am  Jul 10, 1992

From: UNCED 
Subject: A21/5 Sustainability


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