International Cooperation and Development

Responsible Consumption and Production

The 12th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG12) aims at ensuring responsible consumption and production patterns everywhere in the world, notably by:

  • halving global food waste per capita and ensuring the efficient and sustainable use of natural resources by 2030
  • fighting pollution, reducing the overall waste generation, and improving the management of chemicals and toxic wastes
  • supporting companies’ transition to green infrastructures and practices
  • making sure everyone everywhere is fully informed of ways to live in harmony with nature and eventually adopts thoughtful habits

In a nutshell, while the world’s population is constantly growing, SDG12 is about decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation, increasing resource efficiency, and promoting sustainable lifestyles. There can be no sustainable development without sustainable consumption and production first.

According to the UN, if human activity continues at current rate, we will need 3 planets to sustain our lifestyles by 2050. We consume more resources than the planet can generate, and growing rates of pollution and waste only exacerbate the problem. Commercial and residential energy use is the second most rapidly growing area of global energy use after transport. Agriculture and the textile industry are the biggest polluters of clean water in the world. By 2020, the OECD forecasts a 32% increase in car ownership and expects global air traffic to triple, which will inevitably result in more CO2 emissions. And around a third of all food produced in the world is wasted each year, while millions of people suffer from hunger, mainly in third countries.

As natural resources are not infinite, we all need to learn to ‘do more and better with less’, at all levels. Individuals can apply small but impactful changes in their daily lives to reduce their own waste and carbon footprint. However, we are committed to achieve SDG12 because individual efforts are not enough; global and coordinated action is required to tangibly and sustainably switch to responsible consumption and production worldwide.

Our action

In the frame of our development cooperation, we act on different fronts to achieve SDG12:

Supply chains and business practices

We encourage European companies doing business in partner countries to have responsible supply chains and business practices.

We also do our best to guarantee that supply routes within global value chains are managed in a sustainable way, to ensure that European consumers’ choices don’t undermine environmental protection or workers’ rights and opportunities in our partner countries.

We give particular attention to garment value chains as they are one of the biggest employers worldwide and have therefore great potential to contribute to economic and social development in our partner countries. We strive to ensure sustainable garment value chains by empowering women, supporting decent work and living wages, and guaranteeing transparency and traceability.

Green transition

We support our partner countries’ transition to an inclusive green economy that generates economic growth and decent jobs.

The Switch to Green initiative, for example, builds awareness and capacities in partner countries and helps us better coordinate with the European Commission environment service on these matters.

Waste and chemicals management

We support the sound management of waste and chemicals and our partner countries’ implementation efforts of related multilateral environmental agreements.

Sustainable fishing

We make sure that our partner countries respect EU rules to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. These rules ensure that only fisheries products validated as legal by the competent flag State or exporting country can be imported to or exported from the EU.

Our impact