Global Research Forum on Sustainable Production and Consumption (GRF-SPC)
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: Global Research Forum on Sustainable Production and Consumption (GRF-SPC)
  • Submission Document: Not available
Keywords: Water (1 hits),

General Content

a) What are the expectations for the outcome of Rio+20, and what are the concrete proposals in this regard, including views on a possible structure of the Outcome document?

The World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 identified the three ?overarching objectives of sustainable development,? each of which needs to be addressed by the Rio+20 Outcome document. While poverty and protecting natural resources are prominent concerns in the current discussion, it is less clear how the Outcomes will address sustainable consumption and production. In fact, it is not so clear how this objective is seen in relation to green economy despite the fact that it is a requirement for achieving a green economy. The role of SCP in green economy and sustainable development governance needs to be made much clearer, as well as ways to achieve it.
b) What are the comments, if any, on existing proposals: e.g., a green economy roadmap, framework for action, sustainable development goals, a revitalized global partnership for sustainable development, or others?

The Roadmap calls for milestones, indicators and monitoring for a transition to green economy, whereby global and national goals and values (e.g., Sustainable Development Goals, Millennium Consumption Goals, and Earth Charter) expand the vision and direction of this transition. What is also needed is a new infrastructure of programs that actively identify and support the many other initiatives and organizations already working to change current production and consumption patterns and move towards a green economy.

Another proposal is precisely for developing a global program for research on SCP/green economy issues, with this particularly designed to support research initiatives and networking within and among the regions.

c) What are the views on implementation and on how to close the implementation gap, which relevant actors are envisaged as being involved (Governments, specific Major Groups, UN system, IFIs, etc.);

One of the essential needs of national and regional SCP/green economy initiatives is meaningful and timely research and knowledge on the underlying consumption and production patterns driving worsening global social and environmental trends. Knowledge about these drivers and the assessment of policy instruments, practices and strategies is needed at the global, national and local levels.

This SCP research is critical in particular to those organizations and initiatives targeting those same drivers through specific regional, national and local initiatives. SCP research and knowledge needs to be conducted and made available to policymakers, educators, community leaders, journalists and sustainabilitiy advocates. The UN is in an excellent position to promote and coordinate research efforts and the flow of knowledge to, from and among regions and countries. An international research program on sustainable production and consumption is thus an essential element of any institutional structure on sustainable development as well as a green economy.

d) What specific cooperation mechanisms, partnership arrangements or other implementation tools are envisaged and what is the relevant time frame for the proposed decisions to be reached and actions to be implemented?

The Global Research Forum on Sustainable Production and Consumption was intially launched in response to UNDESA?s call for 10YF programs. This Research Forum, now registered as a UN Partnership, has been gaining research partners over the past two years and is organizing a three-day conference prior to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development.

The Rio+20 Outcomes should at least acknowledge if not give its full support to the Global Research Forum on SPC in its efforts to help promote research on the production and consumption patterns essential to building the green economy. It should be considered a part of the institutional structures promoting sustainable development and green economy.

In contrast to the scenario of an isolated research staff working on a small set of problems, the SCP research program proposed here would be based on a global partnership model involving cooperating organizations and networks in and across regions and countries. Rather than a top-down hierarchy, the research partners would participate and help design regional and country-level research on SCP questions identified by those engaged in SCP/green economy initiatives, including federal government and local authorities, national and local business networks, as well as national civil society organizations and networks and local community-based organizations. SCP researchers could be connected through networks at the country, regional and global levels, with these communications and activities monitored and reported on by an international body supporting these regional and national research efforts.

This proposal is now being implemented, with the 3-day GRF conference being held in Rio just prior to the final UNCSD event in June. The GRF will produce a statement which it will share at a side event at the UNCSD meeting, which will hopefully mark one of many tangible examples of Rio+20 contributions to the transition to green economy and a sustainable world.

Specific Elements
a) Objective of the Conference: To secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assessing the progress to date and remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development and addressing new and emerging challenges.

Contributions could include possible sectoral priorities (e.g., (e.g., energy, food security and sustainable agriculture, technology transfer, water, oceans, sustainable urbanization, sustainable consumption and production, natural disaster preparedness and climate change adaptation, biodiversity, etc.) and sectoral initiatives that contribute to integrate the three pillars of sustainable development could be launched and endorsed at Rio+20.

Whatever overall institutional structure for sustainable development is agreed upon, it should incorporate a global research program on sustainable production and consumption, pulling together and making available current knowledge on the production/consumption patterns driving the world?s major crises. The Global Research Forum on SPC proposes this research program as part of the 10 Year Framework of Programs, or it could be integrated into another part of the institutional framework on sustainable development.

This SCP research program would focus on several levels and areas, including compilation of current projected trends over the next 10 years on the global crises as well as analyzing the production/consumption patterns driving those crises. This compilation of trend and driver projections could be done at the global as well as regional and national levels. In addition, the SCP research program would survey research and knowledge being generated on production/consumption patterns within each major economic sector (e.g., food/agriculture, housing, transportation, energy), ensuring this information is available to those organizations and initiatives where this knowledge is essential. The research program could also inventory assessments of policy instruments, education programs, and various practices addressing key production/consumption problems. It could explore issues such as well-being and its indicators, cultures of consumption, advertising and education, technological developments including social networking; infrastructures as enablers or barriers; transition management and socio-technical transitions; social movements; jobs and employment as well as leisure time; economic growth, steady state, and degrowth; green supply chains; designing product service systems; extended producer responsibility; verification; fair trade, and many others. The SCP research program would especially focus on identifying and promoting greater knowledge on the critical intervention points in different production/consumption systems where change is desperately needed.

A global institutional structure is necessary as well as some basic funding to facilitate the activities of this Global Research Forum; a small secretariat could ensure continuous dialogue among the individual and institutional members; could provide and maintain a database, and most importantly could ensure continuity during the next 10 year period. The GRF would collaborate closely with UN institutions engaged in research, especially UNEP and UNDESA, as well as global research insitutions like ICSU.

At this moment the GRF exists as a purely voluntary organizations without funding, working with volunteers from academia and civil society to organize a workshop, a membership list, a website, and fundraising; with a clear expectation that Rio+20 will take a clear decision on how this vibrant network of researchers could be institutionalized in a way that benefits global and local SCP efforts in the framework of the green economy.

b) Green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication: views regarding how green economy can be a means to achieve sustainable development in its three dimensions, and poverty eradication; what is its potential added value; experience to date, including what has worked and how to build upon success, what are the challenges and opportunities and how to address the challenges and seize opportunities, and possible elements of an agreement in outcome document on a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication

Making the transition to a green economy requires progress towards the overarching objective of sustainable consumption and production. Assessing progress as well as achieving it requires clear definition, criteria, and measures to assess progress as well as make effective policy.

Given that the worsening trends of global warming, food insecurity, Water scarcity, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the financial crisis are ultimately driven by production and consumption practices and policies, research on these underlying drivers is essential to understanding and changing these influences. This research on production and consumption is thus essential to the transition to a green economy.

c) Institutional framework for sustainable development: Priorities and proposals for strengthening individual pillars of sustainable development, as well as those for strengthening integration of the three pillars, at multiple levels; local, national, regional and international.

d) Any proposals for refinement of the two themes. Recall that Resolution 64/236 describes the focus of the Conference: "The focus of the Conference will include the following themes to be discussed and refined during the preparatory process: a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and the institutional framework for sustainable development".


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