20.12.2016 · Category: Policy Support Components, Regional Policy Support Component India

Education for all on Sustainable Consumption and Production (SDG 12) in India

India’s consumer market is poised to swell over the next two decades as the country undergoes a major transformation, with income levels set to almost triple -  India is fast rising from the twelfth-largest consumer market today, to become the world's fifth-largest consumer market by 2025. With the increasing prominence of Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) as an imperative for sustainable development, the Republic of India has made strides for the inclusion of SCP in national governance. The country has built upon intrinsic traditions towards resource efficiency, applying these into recent policies for cleaner production and climate resilient development. However, the country is still experiencing water inefficiencies, especially in its agricultural sector, which given observed resource scarcities in water supply, would necessitate a focus on water efficiency technologies and practices among all users of water resources – agricultural producers, industry, and consumer households. The realisation of sustainable consumption and production (SCP) practices in managing key resources such as water will ensure the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12 on SCP as well, such as SDG 6 on water and SDG 8 on economic growth. 

In order to contribute to increased capacities and the integration of SCP into learning curricula, as well as ensure behavioural change and the creation of SCP policy champions in India, the SWITCH-Asia Programme entered into a partnership with TERI University as the lead national policy school for SCP and a co-host of the South Asia Regional Hub of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). Together they developed and delivered the first MA course on SCP taught in a developing country.

They further partnered to organize the Second Young Researchers’ Symposium on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from 6 to 8 October 2016 at TERI University in New Delhi. The symposium brought together young researchers from South Asia to present their research in the areas related to ‘SDG 12: Sustainable Consumption and Production’ and cross-cutting SCP targets such as SDGs 8, 7 and others. It was held on the side lines of the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit1 (WSDS). Through this event, SWITCH-Asia contributed to further Indian research on SCP, awarded funds for three start-up research projects that will examine priority SCP issues such as sustainable agriculture, sustainable buildings, and sustainable energy in South Asia. The three winning projects shown below brought to light new innovative ideas on managing natural resources and shifting behaviours in India for Sustainable Consumption and Production.

Figure 1. Posters developed by the three winners of the Second Young Researchers’ Symposium on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) held at TERI University from 6 to 8 October, 2016

These activities will serve to lay the foundation for continued advanced research by doctoral students to build the research body and expertise of doctoral students on SCP in the South Asian context.

Figure 2. Mini BLISS School students

The collaboration between SWITCH-Asia and TERI University has further led to the development of a new series of activities in which more than 900 secondary-level students from the lowest-income public schools in Delhi and Hyderabad learned about how sustainability could be applied to their local context. Under the guidance of faculty staff from various departments, TERI University scholars shared their academic learning and expertise on sustainable development, green technology and SCP issues with the participating students in these ‘Mini-BLISS (Building Learning in Sustainability Science) Schools’. One day field trips were conducted for pre-selected schools at the Higher Secondary level (11th-12thgrades) during which students were invited to visit the TERI University campus in Delhi to learn about SCP habits, technologies and practices that can benefit their daily lives. Students were further given solar lanterns produced by TERI University’s engineering students and text labs, to ensure access to renewable energy and lighting sources in their homes and for school work.

Through these Mini-BLISS Schools, students were encouraged to identify ways to use SCP ideas and concepts in their daily lives, for example through waste reduction and management, domestic water conservation, and healthy eating and sanitation practices. Following the conclusion of the Mini BLISS Schools, many students noted their desire to pursue their education in the field of environment and sustainable development.
TERI University scholars strengthened their awareness of sustainability and SCP concepts at a household and locality level by through discussions about domestic and/or community-level realities and problems faced. These schools led to the development of innovative and customized solutions for achieving SCP at a small-scale which can be scaled up at a later stage. 

Figure 3. Mini BLISS School students and their TERI University educators

[1] From 2016, Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) is referred to as World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS).