Corporate-led model drives unsustainable consumption-production

Civil society organizations (CSOs) recently launched a three-part webinar series on sustainable consumption and production, or the Sustainable Development Goals-12 (SDG-12), of the UN Agenda 2030, a news release from the Council for People’s Development and Governance (CPDG) said.

The series, which will discuss the nature, situation and the future of sustainability in terms of production and consumption a year after Covid-19 first struck, is spearheaded by CPDG, Ibon International, People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) and Climate Change Network for Community-based Initiatives,

Dubbed “Beyond Covid-19: Promoting People-Powered Sustainable Consumption and Production,” the first part covered the current state of consumption and production in Asia and identified its root causes.

Azra Sayeed of PCFS explained the unequal power relations and the dominance of multinational and transnational corporations in global trade that ingrains unsustainable production and consumption to poor countries.

“A very small minority of people have believed that they can actually hold everybody hostage to their desire for profit. It’s not a new system—it’s a class-based paradigm like monarchy and slavery,” she said, citing the capture of developing countries’ markets and resources by very few rich and developed countries through unequal economic relations.

According to Sayeed, global economic elites are trying to further policies that maintain unsustainable consumption and production processes post-Covid-19.

“[The post-Covid-19] policy agenda is dictated by corporations who are responsible for the profit-seeking, blood-seeking paradigm while they control the world’s resources,” she added.

SDG 12 is among the goals adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015, which aims to reduce and eliminate waste and pollution and ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns for curbing the adverse effects of climate change and environmental degradation.

However, critical CSOs argue that the goal and its indicators are problematic as it does not acknowledge the systematic barriers that hinder sustainability and deprive people of their rights.

“Unsustainable production and consumption are symptoms of systemic, structural barriers that rest on the social, cultural, political, and economic make-up of societies,” Lei Covero of Ibon International said.

The groups attribute the rise of zoonotic and other types of diseases to unsustainable economic processes.

Hence, they argue that the world must not return to “business-as-usual” and instead adopt truly transformational alternatives.

“The current system must be replaced by radically transforming the systems of production and consumption that dismantle inequality and take care of the people and the planet,” Covero said.

The second forum to be held on June 29 will cover people-centered, rights-based practices from countries across Asia, while the third session will tackle ways forward in campaigning and advocacy initiatives, coinciding with the opening of the UN High-Level Political Forum on July 13, where SDG 12 will be reviewed.

The entire webinar series serves as a build-up for the Global People’s Summit on Food Systems, a counter-summit led by PCFS and its seventeen allied organizations against the corporate-controlled United Nations’ Food Systems Summit that the groups denounce.

The recommendations from these sessions will be compiled as advocacy messages to be submitted to the UN High-Level Political Forum and other related advocacy spaces.

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