Last week, on the sidelines of the 5th UN Environment Assembly, The Task Group of the One Planet network and the International Resource Panel presented findings from its report on the Value-Chain Approach as a catalyser for science-based policy action on Sustainable Consumption and Production with more than 370 participants from 78 countries attending the event.
Inger Andersen, United Nations Environment Programme Executive Director, kicked off the event by emphasising the need for a global shift to Sustainable Consumption and Production in order to address the three planetary crisis humanity faces (climate change, nature loss and pollution), and the critical role of the Value-Chain Approach in achieving this goal.
“The Value-Chain Approach will be a valuable tool to make the shift to sustainable consumption and production and solve the three planetary crises.” Ms Andersen said.
Arthur Eijs, Policy Advisor at The Netherlands Ministry of Infrastructure & Water Management, presented the key features of the Value Chain Approach and highlighted its importance as a tool to strategically address natural resource use and environmental impacts involving all stakeholders along the value chain. “The value-chain approach identifies the most promising solutions and defines a common agenda for concerted actions that can transform the system.”, said Mr Eijs.
The panel discussion, moderated by the Director of UNEP’s Economy Division Ligia Noronha, featured interventions from:
- Rodrigo Rodriguez Tornquist, Secretary of Climate Change & Sustainable Development Argentina Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, Chair, 10YFP Board;
- Izabella Teixeira, Co-Chair, International Resource Panel, former Minister of Environment, Brazil;
- Rijit Sengupta, Chief Executive Officer, Centre for Responsible Business, India; and
- Lee-Hendor Ruiters, Regional Manager, South Africa National Cleaner Production Centre.
One of the main points of agreement between the speakers was the critical need to apply scientific knowledge into actionable policies that transform our current unsustainable economic systems. As a methodology for catalysing science-based policy action on sustainable consumption and production, the Value-Chain Approach can help achieve this through identifying key points of intervention within economic systems to reduce natural resource use and environmental impacts caused by production and consumption.
As Ms Teixeira put it, “We need to deliver science that can strengthen the consensus of policy options, identify solutions and guide actions for consensus for environmental sustainability.”
Another point emphasised by speakers was the potential of the Value-Chain Approach to promote collective action and consolidate a common agenda towards Sustainable Consumption and Production.
“The Value-Chain Approach can promote an intersectoral dialogue on how to increase awareness on the resource efficiency agenda and expand this transition at all levels and sectors,” Mr Rodriguez Tornquist said. By involving all actors along the value chain, the Value-Chain Approach “considers a broad number of actors including different levels of governments, businesses and civil society.”
“The Value-Chain Approach reduces the distance between the decision-making process to where the environmental impact takes place,” said Mr Sengupta.
While widely applicable, the Value-Chain approach also provides context-specific solutions. As highlighted by Mr Sengupta, the Value-Chain approach is unique amongst most international methodologies and standards because it takes into account culture and context. It therefore considers the specificities of different value chains in different countries and levels of development, ensuring its replicability.
The Value-Chain approach identifies natural-resource use and environmental impacts along the value chain in order to find key points of intervention. As Ms Noronha said, “the Value-Chain Approach provides comprehensive and tailored information to help identify priorities, implement strategies, and monitor impacts around the sustainable management of natural resources.”
“It’s not enough just to know that natural-resource use and environmental impacts related to economic activity are increasing. To drive action on sustainable consumption and production, decision-makers need to know where the key points of intervention are.” said Ms Norohna.
Drawing on the learnings from the Task Group in the development of the Value-Chain Approach, some key recommendations for how this approach can be taken forward include applying it along key sectoral value chains to drive actions, as well as promoting and increasing its uptake as a methodology for sustainable consumption and production.
The Value-Chain Approach is the product of the IRP and the One Planet network Task Group, an 18-month collaboration that formed in response to a resolution on sustainable consumption at the 4th UN Environment Assembly (UNEA4), composed of experts on natural-resource use from the IRP, and practitioners on sustainable consumption and production from across the One Planet network.
Read the full report from the One Planet Network and the International Resource Panel, “Catalysing science-based policy action on Sustainable Consumption and Production: The Value Chain Approach & its application to food, construction and textiles"