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Balancing production and consumption

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08th-Jul-2018       
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Dr. M Abul Kashem Mozumder and Dr. Md. Shairul Mashreque :
There is a symbiotic connection between production and consumption.. If production of any goods is at a  discount consumers suffer a lot. Production of goods  desired by the consumers  must be sustainable. For example production  of  wholesome foods, cloths, house building material etc.  lead to sustainable livings.  Goal 12 of Sustainable development goal  advocates Sustainable consumption and production "sustainable production and consumption can be defined as production and use of products and services in a manner that is socially beneficial, economically viable and environmentally benign over their whole life cycle. "
Sustainable consumption and production tantamount to promoting resource and energy efficiency, sustainable infrastructure, and providing access to basic services, green and decent jobs and a better quality of life for all. Its implementation is a must for   overall development plans including reduction of future economic, environmental and social costs, strengthening economic competitiveness and reducing poverty.
There are scholarly research papers on sustainable consumption and production. We may mention some: Interface of sustainable production and consumption, Protein consumption and sustainability, sustainability through green design and practice,  Fostering change to Sustainable consumption and production,  Emerging design strategies  in Sustainable consumption and production of  textiles and clothing, the role of corporation in achieving ecological Sustainability, Sustainable consumption and production of sea food  and consumption, environmental sustainability and human geography.
The goal 12    proclaims  "doing more and better with less, increasing net welfare gains from economic activities by reducing resource use, degradation and pollution along the whole lifecycle, while increasing quality of life. It involves different stakeholders, including business, consumers, policy makers, researchers, scientists, retailers, media, and development cooperation agencies, among others." It  advocates " a systemic approach and cooperation among actors operating in the supply chain, from producer to final consumer. It involves engaging consumers through awareness-raising and education on sustainable consumption and lifestyles, providing consumers with adequate information through standards and labels and engaging in sustainable public procurement, among others."
The UN raised the following points in connection withsustainable production and consumption:
· Each year, an estimated one third of all food produced - equivalent to 1.3 billion tonnes worth around $1 trillion - ends up rotting in the bins of consumers and retailers, or spoiling due to poor transportation and harvesting practices
· If people worldwide switched to energy efficient lightbulbs the world would save US$120 billion annually
· Should the global population reach 9.6 billion by 2050, the equivalent of almost three planets could be required to provide the natural resources needed to sustain current lifestyles
Water
· Less than 3 per cent of the world's water is fresh (drinkable), of which 2.5 per cent is frozen in the Antarctica, Arctic and glaciers. Humanity must therefore rely on 0.5 per cent for all of man's ecosystem's and fresh water needs.
· Man is polluting water faster than nature can recycle and purify water in rivers and lakes.
· More than 1 billion people still do not have access to fresh water.
· Excessive use of water contributes to the global water stress.
· Water is free from nature but the infrastructure needed to deliver it is expensive.
Energy
· Despite technological advances that have promoted energy efficiency gains, energy use in OECD countries will continue to grow another 35 per cent by 2020. Commercial and residential energy use is the second most rapidly growing area of global energy use after transport.
· In 2002 the motor vehicle stock in OECD countries was 550 million vehicles (75 per cent of which were personal cars). A 32 per cent increase in vehicle ownership is expected by 2020. At the same time, motor vehicle kilometres are projected to increase by 40 per cent and global air travel is projected to triple in the same period.
· Households consume 29 per cent of global energy and consequently contribute to 21 per cent of resultant CO2 emissions.
· One-fifth of the world's final energy consumption in 2013 was from renewables.
Food
· While substantial environmental impacts from food occur in the production phase (agriculture, food processing), households influence these impacts through their dietary choices and habits. This consequently affects the environment through food-related energy consumption and waste generation.
· 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted every year while almost 1 billion people go undernourished and another 1 billion hungry.
· Overconsumption of food is detrimental to our health and the environment.
· 2 billion people globally are overweight or obese.
· Land degradation, declining soil fertility, unsustainable water use, overfishing and marine environment degradation are all lessening the ability of the natural resource base to supply food.
· The food sector accounts for around 30 per cent of the world's total energy consumption and accounts for around 22 per cent of total Greenhouse Gas emissions.
In search of viable ways to create more sustainable diets, it is extremely valuable to analyse how people in various countries are supplied with dietary proteins from plant-based and animal-based sources. As a cross-national comparison of food ingredients may easily lead to misleading interpretations, it is crucial to opt for a multidisciplinary approach and to focus on countries that are spread across a bounded geographical area.

(Dr. M Abul Kashem Mozumder, Pro-VC, BUP and Dr. Md. Shairul Mashreque, Retired Professor, Chittagong University).

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