Prosperity need not cost the earth – literally – according to a new handbook that was released today, which offers guidance to Asian policy makers on ways to sustainably manage the region’s fast-growing appetite for natural resources without affecting their countries’ ability to meet essential consumption needs.
According to the guide, produced jointly by UNEP and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), the region will account for 48 per cent of global consumption by 2030, with consumer spending likely to reach US$32 trillion.
“Informing consumers in Asia about the implications of their consumption decisions and helping provide them with sustainable options will help the region maintain quality growth without undermining future development. This guide provides solutions and policy approaches to make sustainable consumption a reality,” said Kaveh Zahedi, Regional Director of the UNEP Regional Office of Asia and the Pacific.
The new guide offers policy makers an overview of thematic solutions to sustainable production and consumption challenges. It also debunks common myths such as ‘Sustainable Consumption is incompatible with Poverty Eradication’ and ‘Informed Consumers will Consume Sustainably’ and explores how sustainable consumption, traditionally part of Asian culture, is being side-lined.
“Understanding sustainable production and consumption is a vital step to designing policies towards sustainable development. There is a dichotomy in Asian countries where, on the one hand, material consumption by a growing consumer class mirrors patterns in affluent industrialised countries. On the other hand, poverty blights marginalised areas of cities and limits opportunities for well-being in villages,” said Lewis Akenji, Senior IGES Policy Fellow and lead author of the handbook.
Consumption driven by choice as opposed to need is expected to increase substantially in Asia as higher incomes raise demand for material possessions. Pointing out that ‘consumption’ should not be confused with ‘consumerism’, the handbook notes that under-consumption by the poor is as unsustainable as high consumption driven by rapidly growing affluence in the region.
The handbook, Sustainable Consumption Guide for Policy Makers: Debunking Myths and Outlining Solutions (Asia Edition), is available at http://www.unep.org/roap/Activities/ResourceEfficiency/SustainableConsumptionGuideforPolicyMakersD/tabid/1060318/Default.aspx
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