Developing national policies to change unsustainable consumption patterns


Sustainable consumption means meeting the needs and aspirations of current and future generations within the limits of the Earth's carrying capacity; it thus addresses the quantity, quality and distribution of consumption. The effectiveness of demand-side action to reduce the life-cycle environmental damage of consuming goods and services from dispersed sources should be emphasized as a way of complementing the traditional supply-side measures to curb industrial pollution. However, it is the fundamental responsibility of Governments to set the framework of incentives, infrastructure, regulation and leadership which enable other actors such as business, trade unions, NGOs and households to meet their own responsibilities.


This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities.

Sustainable production and consumption patterns could be promoted by changing national policies and strategies.

When procuring materials, including materials for production, companies must endeavor to purchase those that are superior in terms of conserving resources, preserving the environment, and enhancing recycling.


Recognizing the strains placed on the global environment by the disproportionate consumption of resources by industrialized countries, the nations of the western hemisphere should work together to reduce and eliminate unsustainable patterns of consumption and production in conjunction with efforts at economic integration.

Type Classification:
C: Cross-sectoral strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 4: Quality EducationGOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesGOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and ProductionGOAL 13: Climate ActionGOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal