How India is positioned to achieve UN’s sustainable consumption and production goal

Synopsis: India is working towards achieving sustainable development goal related to responsible consumption and production, but much more needs to be done. A look at India’s progress and associated challenges.


The United Nations-mandated Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)12 deals with resource usage. India has prepared numerous sustainable consumption and production plans that are put in the mainstream priority.

India’s progress in regard to the SDG is fair enough but not satisfactory.

Important stats

The average lifestyle material footprint of India according to 2015 statistics is around 8,400 kg per capita per year, which when compared to sustainable material footprint of 8,000 kg per capita per year is quite acceptable.

Municipal waste: The population of China and India together constitutes 36% of the global population, but generates only 27% of the global municipal waste. Whereas, the United States constitutes only 4% of the global population that produces 12% of the waste.

Why food wastage should be addressed?

Impact on Greenhouse emissions: Food wastage reduction can have a significant effect on greenhouse gas emissions, hunger, pollution and money-saving during recessions.

Will fulfill multiple SDGs: Curbing food loss and wastage can serve to fulfil multiple SDGs at once as well as help bridge the food gap by 2050.

How’s India’s progress on SDG 12?

The SDG 12.3 focuses on reducing per capita global food waste by 2030. About 50 kg of food is wasted per person per year in India, UNEP highlighted in its 2021 report. Still, India, among South Asian countries, has lower level of food wastage compared to its neighbouring countries.

SDG 12.6 and 12.7 require large companies to adopt, promote and integrate sustainable practices and publish the related reports. Some companies are realising the need for greener ways of operation. Flipkart, an e-commerce company, has replaced paper cups for ceramic and glass ones.

What are some steps being taken by the central & state govt?

One important aspect of SDG 12 is the education of people so that they are aware of sustainable development and lifestyles. This would help them make smarter and evaluated choices that are in harmony with nature.

Environment education: The Indian government has included environment education as a compulsory component in the formal curriculum. This is not new as the roots of such an education system date back to the 1960s.

Sustainable tourism: A very closely tied goal is sustainable tourism. Kerala has been the leading state with respect to innovative initiatives for sustainable tourism. The project of ‘Responsible Tourism’ in Kumarakom takes the help of the local community by linking them to the hospitality industry and sustaining eco-friendly tourism. Similarly, Himachal Pradesh has introduced a ‘Homestay Scheme’ to draw tourists to rural areas with natural, comfortable and budget-friendly accommodation and food. These initiatives give a raw experience to the tourists and also boost local incomes.

Among all the states and union territories in India, Jammu & Kashmir and Nagaland are top performing till date with respect to SDG 12, according to the Niti Aayog’s SDG dashboard 2020-21.

What are the challenges?

Less efficient methods: China, India and Pakistan use the method of ‘phytoremediation’, a concept that stems from bioremediation through the usage of plants. This involves tree plantation to restore environment as well as degraded soil restoration. This method is, however, less efficient.

Lower recycling capacity: A considerable part of the total hazardous waste that India produces is recyclable, but only 4% is recycled. Efforts are required to upgrade recycling mechanisms.

What needs to be done?

Reducing fossil fuel usage: After 2017 there has been a slight upward trend in the total energy subsidy. While the increase in renewable energy subsidy is worth appreciating, there is a need for shifting more resources to this area and reducing fossil fuel usage.

India can achieve self-sufficiency in recycling in the next 10 years if National Recycling Policy is implemented properly and scrap care techniques are shifted in the recycling industries.

Source: This post is based on the article “How India is positioned to achieve UN’s sustainable consumption and production goal” published in Down to Earth on 7th Sep 2021.

Terms to know:


Print Friendly and PDF