In August 2020, the UN looks at the importance of Responsible Consumption and Production as our guide to a less wasteful and more sustainable future
27 August 2020

Goal of the Month | August 2020: Responsible Consumption and Production

Did you know that every year about one third of all food produced – equivalent to 1.3 billion tonnes – is wasted, yet food security continues to be a growing global concern, affecting millions of people. Or that the world’s freshwater supply such as rivers and lakes are polluted at a much faster rate than nature can recycle and purify? 

COVID-19 lockdowns may have led to a dramatic 5 per cent drop in greenhouse gas emissions but not all measures to contain the pandemic have had a positive impact on the environment, warns the UN Conference on Trade and Development. Global sales of disposable face masks have sky-rocketted, and many more people have turned to online shopping due to social distancing. 

What does this mean? Plastic waste created by over-packaged products and take-out meals that are delivered daily to homes are now clogging our landfills and floating in our seas. According to the UN Environment Programme, the costs are staggering – the negative spillover effects from plastic waste on fisheries, tourism and maritime transport, for example, can cost up to an estimated $40 billion each year.

Food Security


A recent joint report issued by several UN agencies, The State of Food Security and Nutrition 2020, looks at how the COVID-19 pandemic is intensifying the vulnerabilities and inadequacies of global food systems, while estimating that at least another 83 million to 132 million people may go hungry in 2020. Current estimates further show that nearly 690 million people – or 8.9 percent of the world population  –  is hungry, up by 10 million people in one year and by nearly 60 million in five years.

Click here for full report


Technology: Tackling global E-waste

A record 53.6 million metric tonnes of e-waste – discarded products with a battery or plug such as computers and mobile phones – was generated globally in 2019, up 9.2 Mt​ in five years. A new report by the International Telecommunications Union on Global E-waste warns that toxic and hazardous substances such as mercury, brominated flame-retardants (BFR) or chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are found in many electronic equipments and pose severe risk to human health and the environment if not handled safely. More information and the full report are available here.

The Path to Sustainable Consumption and Production

There are more than 7.5 billion people on earth, and we use 1.5 times more resources than we have. In a world of increasing resource constraints and demands, we must do more, better, with less waste. While making real change is an immense and multifaceted task, it can and must be done.  UNDP helps countries design integrated solutions that speed up progress on the Sustainable Development Goals to advance social, economic and environmental targets. Read more here.

Article originally appeared on:

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Waste