Oslo Rountable on Sustainable Production and Consumption


This document contains elements for an international work programme to be presented at the UN Commission on Sustainable Development at its third session in 1995. It represents the outcome of the Oslo Roundtable Conference on Sustainable Production and Consumption, hosted by the Norwegian Ministry of Environment from 6-10 February 1995.

Moving to sustainable production and consumption patterns is a common global concern, and the document is set within the overall context of the urgent need to achieve sustainable development on a worldwide basis. This involves a range of coordinated actions, including eradicating poverty, making trade and environment policies mutually supportive, eliminating environmental harmful subsidies, promoting the transfer of technology and financial resources, the promotion of democracy and human rights, the efficient operation of markets, and achieving greater international cooperation. Some of these and other critical elements of sustainability are addressed at each session of the CSD.

The document builds on existing achievements and agreements, such as Agenda 21, the work of the CSD, UNEP and the OECD, as well as the results of the 1994 Oslo Symposium on Sustainable Consumption. The conclusion of the Agenda 21 Chapter on Changing Consumption Patterns that developed countries should �take the lead in achieving sustainable consumption patterns� is the starting point, and the document focuses its analysis and recommendations on the need for the developed world to put its own house in order. The concerns of the developing world and economies in transition are also taken into account, so that the transition to sustainable patterns of consumption in the industrialized countries contributes to, but is not a substitute for, realising the sustainable development needs of other parts of the world.

Given the breadth of the production and consumption agenda, and the fact that considerable efforts have already been made to improve the supply side of the equation, the document concentrates on guiding the consumption of goods and services so that life cycle environmental damage is progressively reduced to levels within the limits of nature. The complex nature of the task means that sustainable production and consumption can only be achieved by sharing responsibility among citizens and communities, labour and industry, governments and intergovernmental organisations. This document identifies a menu of possible actions for these key actors, as well as areas where all can work together.

Managing the process of change towards sustainable production and consumption requires a long- term perspective. But the analytical and policy foundations for this shift must be laid now. As a result, this document contains a set of recommendations for immediate action, which are intended to generate a dynamic force in favour of more structural changes over the long-term. The scheduled review of Agenda 21 in 1997 will be an important milestone for reviewing progress in the implementation of the international work programme.

The document is in two main parts:

Part 1 - The Imperative of Sustainable Production and Consumption

This describes the need for change, defines the issues and describes the rationale and opportunities flowing from a special focus on managing changes in consumption patterns.

Part 2 - Sharing Responsibility for Sustainable Production and Consumption

This section contains targeted recommendations for civil society (citizens and community groups), labour and business and government.

The document is supplemented with `windows`, which highlight a number of practical examples or different perspectives on the issues, attributed to particular organisations.

In conclusion, the document proposes a range of specific actions to encourage greater efficiency and equity in the use of energy, land, water and other resources and to minimize and avoid pollution and waste. Particular emphasis is placed on:

The actions proposed in this document are a starting point. It focuses deliberately on changing consumption patterns within the developed world. It will need to be expanded and enhanced on a rolling basis in the years ahead.

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