The Millennium Consumption Goals — a new idea to tackle over-consumption and unsustainable production

With the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) scheduled to take place in June, discussions on a more sustainable development agenda have been on-going at international level. Suggestions for accelerating sustainable development include the introduction of the Millennium Consumption Goals (MCGs) that are to hold developed countries responsible for their over-consumption and unsustainable production patterns.

The MCGs were introduced by Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Prof Mohan Munasing at a UN preparatory meeting for Rio+20, in January 2011, and are officially promoted by a broad coalition of stakeholders at UN level, called the MCG Network. The network aims for the adoption of an international mandate for the MGCs, which could be agreed upon by international leaders at the Rio+20 conference. The promotion of such consumption goals comes at a time of increased poverty, resource scarcities, conflict and climate change that have been accelerated by unsustainable consumption patterns and resource exploitation of developed countries.

The MCGs are intended to be a supplementary tool for broader initiatives in the area of sustainable consumption and production and the green economy — concepts discussed as part of an overall strategy for sustainable development. “Millennium consumption goals (MCG) could help make our development path more sustainable, by focusing on the 1.4 billion people in the richest 20 percentile of the world’s population. They consume over 80% of global output, or 60 times more than the poorest 20 percentile. Instead of viewing the rich as a problem, they should be persuaded to contribute to the solution”, stressed Prof Mohan Munasing. As such, the MCGs are to comprise global benchmarks for the ‘rich’, complementing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that are targeted at the ‘poor’, he continued.

With an overall consumption of 80% of global output, small shifts towards more sustainable consumption patterns may already have significant effects and may free up more resources to increase the consumption of the poor, according to Munasing. With its global agenda, the MCGs would target a large number of individual households and could thus yield quicker results than top-down government policies and industrial investments.

“All human beings are stakeholders, when it comes to sustainable development and climate change. Consumers and producers can and must strive to make development more sustainable — economically, socially and environmentally. By acting together now, we will make the planet a better and safer place for our children and grand children”, he concluded.

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