The South Asian Co-operative Environment Programme launches the first South Asia Forum on Sustainable Consumption and Production
Collectively, the eight member States of the South Asian Co-operative Environment Forum used 8.6 billion tonnes of materials in 2015 alone. This is about 10 per cent of the world's total natural resource use. Of that, 6.9 billion tonnes were used for consumption within South Asia (measured by the material footprint). But are these natural resources delivering socio-economic development? South Asia collectively uses 4 kilograms of materials per dollar, as well as 497 liters of water and 23 megajoules of energy. That is far less efficient than the global average of 1.4 kilograms per dollar, 76 liters per dollar* and 11 megajoules per dollar, demonstrating that SCP sustainable consumption and production presents a huge opportunity for South Asia to get more out of its natural resource use.
It is in the context of low resource efficiency that the South Asian Co-operative Environment Programme launched the first South Asia Forum on Sustainable Consumption and Production with the United Nations Environment through the EU-funded SWITCH-Asia Programme. The forum marked the first time that all SACEP Member States came together under the specific context of SCP to present their country situation and discuss both good practises and lessons learnt. The participants collectively created a summary statement of the South Asia Sustainable Consumption and Production Forum which will be presented to the SACEP Governing Council when they next convene.
South Asia, home to a quarter of the world’s middle-class consumers, has experienced of robust economic growth, averaging 6 per cent over the past 20 years. This strong growth has translated into declining poverty and sustainable development gains. Continued population growth, paired with increases in production and household consumption has increased pressure on the environment, making the need to shift towards resource efficiency and sustainable consumption and production an imperative for South Asia’s Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda.
Dr. Khurshid, Director General of SACEP explains: “Today, our subregion is at a crossroad. We are poised to integrate sustainability to ensure a more resource efficient growth path for all eight of our member States. Being at this crossroad is what prompted the creation of this forum to address sustainable issues of paramount importance including education, lifestyle and mainstreaming. We see it as a priority, not only for the preservation of natural resources and the environment itself-- but moreover, it is a priority for our collective prosperity.”
To achieve the 17 goals of the 2030 Development Agenda, nations are increasingly engaging in dialogue on how they can best cooperate, learn from and strategize with their neighbors. “On a per capita basis, we know that the South Asia uses very little on average, approximately 4.8 tonnes per capita per year. And while this is a mere third of Asia's average, it is growing rapidly--25 percent in the last 5 years alone. We also know that while the average per capita use here is low, this hides an extraordinary inequality between the rich and the poor in each country. The South Asian Co-operative Environment has taken a very important step towards cooperation on more equitable and sustainable natural resource management through the creation of this forum.” Ms. Isabelle Louis, Acting Regional Director of United National Environment, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.
Attended by 45 participants representing Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, the goal of the South Asia Forum on Sustainable Consumption and Production is to provide leadership and strengthen partnerships to stimulate the promotion and implementation of sustainable consumption and production policies, strategies and technologies in South Asia.
One of the key sectors discussed in the forum was integrating Sustainable Consumption and Production into education. Efforts are already being made to increase educational opportunities in South Asia. In collaboration with Peradiniya University and UN Environment through the EU-funded SWITCH-Asia Programme, the South Asian Co-operative Environment will be hosting the UN Winter School on Sustainable Consumption and Production in South Asia. After an intensely competitive application process, 24 participants will commence this intensive course from 7-19 November 2016 in Kandy, Sri Lanka. Modelled after the regional Asia-Pacific UN Winter School on SCP, this is the first time it is being tailored to the South Asian context.
The South Asia Co-operative Environment Programme (SACEP) is an inter-governmental organization, established in 1982 by the governments of South Asia to promote and support protection, management and enhancement of the environment in the region. Its member States include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. www.sacep.org