You have probably heard that over 1 billion tonnes of food is wasted annually yet more than 2 billion people live undernourished or in hunger. Or that while more than 1 billion people do not have access to fresh water approximately 52 billion euros are spent each year on buying fresh, clean, bottled water in the United States alone. These both are very vital issues being tackled by the 12th SDG focusing on sustainable methods of production and consumption.
The aim of the 12th SDG put simply is to “do more and better with less”. This year we will reach the Earth Overshoot Day (EOD), the day when we have used all the natural resources the Earth can renew in a year, on the 1stof August. The EOD has been falling on August for almost 10 years now following a steady decrease in the time it takes for us to use all the renewable resources the Earth has to offer for a year.
This ecological debt has been building up ever since the 1970s and has gotten to the point where we use 1.7 Earths annually. Should the world population reach the estimated 9,6 billion by the year 2050, almost three planets would be required in order to sustain our current lifestyles.
This is where the 12th SDG and its targets step in. These 11 aims focus on e.g. waste reduction, adopting new national policies concerning sustainable procurement and creating suitable practices for more sustainable living in developing countries.
These ambitious targets, such as “by 2030, sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources” can leave one wondering whether or not they are possible to reach within their schedule. Even though many of these steps require action from the governments and transnational corporations, we as individuals shouldn’t feel powerless or discouraged. Just like one of the targets states “ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature”, involving the consumer through information is one of the most important things to do to reach the 12th goal.
As well as in many other cases, education is the most effective solution in this one too, and moving towards more conscious consumerism is something we will be learning about during this short course.