The great challenge faced by economies today is to integrate environmental sustainability with economic growth and welfare by decoupling environmental degradation from economic growth and doing more with less. This is one of the key objectives of the European Union, but the consequences of climate change and the growing demand for energy and resources are challenging this objective. It is now time to move towards an energy and resource efficient economy.
Sustainable consumption and production maximise business' potential to transform environmental challenges into economic opportunities and provide a better deal for consumers. The challenge is to improve the overall environmental performance of products throughout their life-cycle, to boost the demand for better products and production technologies and to help consumers in making informed choices.
On 16 July 2008 the European Commission presented the Sustainable Consumption and Production and Sustainable Industrial Policy (SCP/SIP) Action Plan. It includes a series of proposals on sustainable consumption and production that will contribute to improving the environmental performance of products and increase the demand for more sustainable goods and production technologies. It also seeks to encourage EU industry to take advantage of opportunities to innovate. The Council endorsed the Action Plan in its conclusions adopted on 4 December 2008.
A range of policies at EU and national level already foster resource efficient and eco-friendly products and raise consumer awareness. The proposals complement these policy instruments and provide measures where gaps exist.
The building blocks of the European Union's policy on sustainable consumption and production are listed in the Sustainable Consumption and Production drop down menu, on the left of the screen. These proposals are an integral part of the European Union's renewed Sustainable Development Strategy (EU SDS) which reinforces the EU's long-standing commitment to meet the challenges of sustainable development and builds on initiatives and instruments at EU and international level such as the United Nations' Marrakech Process.
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