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The Marrakech Process on sustainable consumption and production

by Redazione FGB [1], 10 April 2009

Interpreting responsibility as sustainability, I would like to have a look at a global project coordinated by the United Nations and going by the name of the Marrakech process. As I stated in my previous 2 articles on the possible non-sustainability of the present space exploitation policy [2] and the forced evacuation of the International Space Station [3], I would like to look at various proposals whose goals are the promotion of more sustainable lifestyles in general as a response to the environmental and economic problems that are in evidence around us.

The Marrakech Process is a global process to support the elaboration of a 10 year framework of programs on sustainable consumption and production.
The United Nations Department for Economic Affairs and the United Nations Environment Program are the lead UN agencies in this process, encouraging the participation of amongst others national governments, development agencies and civil society.

In 2002 at the world summit on sustainable development, governments called for the creation of a global economic framework that would help countries to stimulate growth and at the same time minimize the negative effect that this growth would have on the environment and local communities. A year later the first of a biennial set of expert meetings took place in Marrakech in Morocco and the process that took its name from that city was born. The second meeting was held in October 2008 and the third is scheduled for May 2009.

The Marrakech Process web site [4] contains the first draft of the 10 year framework and support document both of which are downloadable [5]and are accompanied by a request for public comment. The second draft is expected later this month. This is an interesting document as it outlines elements of a declaration on sustainable consumption and production and the global objectives and functions of the 10 year plan. It states that "In the Johannesburg plan of implementation UN member states agreed to "encourage and promote the development of a 10 year framework of programmes in support of regional and national initiatives to accelerate the shift towards sustainable consumption and production to promote social and economic development with the carrying capacities of ecosystems by addressing and, where appropriate, delinking economic growth and environmental degradation through improving efficiency and sustainability in the use of resources and production processes and reducing resource degradation, pollution and waste. All countries should take action, with developed countries taking the lead, taking into account the development needs and capabilities of developing countries, through mobilization from all sources, of financial and technical assistance and capacity building for developing countries."
The site also gives details of how the participants have been divided into 7 task forces with different responsibilities, the regions involved, issues involved and implementation milestones. I would like to have a look at the organization, responsibilities and reports published by the task forces.

Each task force is lead by a different country, and they take responsibility for promoting the development of sustainable practices in different thematic areas. These thematic areas are divided into; cooperation with Africa lead by Germany, education for sustainable consumption lead by Italy, sustainable buildings and construction lead by Finland, sustainable lifestyles lead by Sweden, sustainable products lead by the UK, sustainable public procurement lead by Switzerland and sustainable tourism lead by France.

As part of their work on education and sustainable consumption the Italian team have produced a draft of an annex entitled "Here and Now, Education for Sustainable Consumption, Relevant resources", [6] it is the result of research carried out by the University of Bergamo - Scuola di Dottorato in Antropologia ed epistemologia della complessità and the Institute for the Environment and Education Scholè Futro in Italy and is available for download. This document is a collection of good practices gathered globally and divided into sections. There are about 80 initiatives catalogued, a wide range of ideas and approaches, from formal education in schools and universities to non-formal education through pier group meetings, from civil society initiatives and toolkits to web resources, from the distribution of worms and compost heaps to literature reviews.
Germany leads the task force entitled Cooperation with Africa, and published their final report on best practices in Africa [7]in March of 2007. The introduction and observations and approaches sections of this document are very interesting. The introduction addresses the problems of mass media representations of Africa, the causes and consequences of environmental destruction and the value of traditional customs. The second section deals mainly with implementation problems and the report continues with in depth descriptions of the best practices in various African countries. There are also some interesting pictures, photos of the problems and results of the projects but also paintings depicting the problems caused by environmental degradation.

The Task Force for Sustainable Tourism is headed by France, and between the 19th and 22nd of April this year their fifth international meeting will take place in Marrakech. The objectives of this meeting are to finalize the policy recommendations process, discuss the future of the initiative and its transformation into a sustainable development partnership and to disseminate the taskforce projects in the Mediterranean zone.
The stated aim of this task force [8] taken from the web site is "to promote tourism that makes optimal use of environmental resources helping to conserve natural heritage and biodiversity, respect the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities conserving their cultural heritage and traditional values and ensures viable, long-term economic operations that provide socio-economic benefits to all stakeholders". Some of the main projects under development include raising awareness of tourism and climate change, sustainable Coastal Tourism (Integrated Coastal Zone Management or ICZM), promoting natural and cultural heritage as assets for sustainable tourism development, a Communication Campaign on Sustainable Holidays, capacity building for the environmental management of small and medium enterprises in the accommodation sector and the launching of the Green Passport Campaign to raise awareness in the tourism community. Their collection of good practices [9] is also available through the governmental web site.

The Finnish task force [10] is responsible for sustainable buildings and constructions, and is mainly interested in cutting down energy use in housing. They state in their best policy practices publication [11] that "of all energy almost 40% is consumed in buildings, the potential for saving is enormous and the know-how is here". They pose the question of what the public sector could do in order to promote good practice but go on to argue that it has not been politically popular to set ambitious energy targets even though the technology is here and costs are only marginally higher.

The Task Force for Sustainable Lifestyles is headed by Sweden and as the name suggests their goal is to promote sustainable lifestyles in which people live more in harmony with their natural environment and develop strong socially cohesive communities. Part of their work involves the youthXchange [12] scheme, that taking youth as its target group, aims to help trainers and individuals to understand and communicate on sustainable lifestyles. The site is lively and addresses issues of fashion, social belonging, respecting our bodies and housing, as well as looking at leisure time and "green" partying.

The Sustainable Products Task Force [13] is headed by the UK and its aim is to encourage innovation in product eco-design and to establish and participate in open and transparent processes for improving product performance. They have established "Global Sustainable Product Networks" in the hope that they will be able to provide a helpful framework for existing communities of practice in order to influence higher-level policy practices. So far they have created networks involving lighting, home entertainment products and electric motors.


The Sustainable Public Procurement Task Force [14]
headed by Switzerland aims to promote and support the implementation of public procurement programs that encourage the uptake of sustainable procurement of products and services. In their Innovation Brief [15] they state that public procurement is estimated to represent between 6 and 10% of GDP depending on the country and therefore represents a powerful way to stimulate more sustainable consumption patterns for society at large.

As part of the Marrakech Process a special event entitled "Building Resource Efficient Economies and Sustainable Societies" took place during the UNEP's Governing Council meeting [16] in Nairobi, Kenya (18 February 2009). The event was organized by the International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management and the event explored the relevance of the Marrakech Process and Resource Panel to the construction of solutions to the food, energy and water crises, and to address climate change. The speakers included H.E.Ms Lidia Adela Castro De Doens, Minister of the Environment for Panama, Dr Terwolde Berhan Gebre Egxiabher, General Manager of the Environmental Authority of Ethiopia and H.E. Dr Byung-Wook Lee, Vice Minister of the Environment of the Republic of Korea. You can read the agenda [17] and background document. [18]

Finally have a look at the creative media gallery on the home page [19], some of the adverts and photos are fantastic.

(image by Venfield from "Creative Gallery on Sustainability Communications [20]")

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Links in this document:

  1. 1] /schedabiografica/Redazione FGB
  2. 2] /en/focus/2009/02/satellite_traffic_problems.html
  3. 3] /it/segnalazioni/2009/03/space_station_briefly_evacuate_1.html
  4. 4] http://esa.un.org/marrakechprocess/
  5. 5] http://esa.un.org/marrakechprocess/pdf/Draft10yfpniputtoCSDv2_281008.pdf
  6. 6] http://www.unep.fr/scp/marrakech/taskforces/pdf/HEREand%20NOW%20Resources%20Janv2009.pdf
  7. 7] http://esa.un.org/marrakechprocess/pdf/Best_Practice_English_TF_Cooperation_Africa.pdf
  8. 8] http://esa.un.org/marrakechprocess/tfsustourism.shtml
  9. 9] http://www.veilleinfotourisme.fr/79494058/0/fiche___pagelibre/&RH=1236352721077&RF=REX
  10. 10] http://www.environment.fi/default.asp?contentid=310073&lan=EN
  11. 11] http://esa.un.org/marrakechprocess/pdf/Buildings_for_a_Better_Future_SBC_MTF_Finland.pdf
  12. 12] http://www.youthxchange.net/main/home.asp
  13. 13] http://www.itfsp.org/
  14. 14] http://ew.eea.europa.eu/ManagementConcepts/scp/marrakesh-process
  15. 15] http://esa.un.org/marrakechprocess/pdf/InnovationBriefs_no5.pdf
  16. 16] http://www.unep.org/gc/gc25/index.asp
  17. 17] http://www.unep.fr/scp/marrakech/pdf/GC%20Spec%20Event%20MP%2BRP_Agen_130209Final.pdf
  18. 18] http://www.unep.fr/scp/marrakech/pdf/GC%20Spec%20Event%20background%20doc.pdf
  19. 19] http://www.unep.fr/pc/sustain/advertising/ad/ad_list.asp?cat=all&cp=
  20. 20] http://www.unep.fr/scp/communications/ad/details.asp?id=46527&cat=all
CC Creative Commons - some rights reserved.
image by Venfield
Read also: Ethical Leadership by Ervin Laszlo and By Any Other Name in Jeff Ubois' blog.
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