Time and space could be, well, just illusory from a metaphysical angle. But that doesn’t diminish its relevance in our existence, though. Year 2050 is going to be as real as it is illusory. But as we approach that year, the global population is expected to touch the 9.6 billion mark. And studies suggest that — hold your nerve — it would take the equivalent of three Earths to sustain the lifestyles we follow.
No wonder, ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns forms the 12th Sustainable Development Goal set by the United Nations.
The progress we have achieved so far owes a great deal to environmental degradation. The unsustainable nature of our development models has jeopardized the very systems we and future generations depend on for survival. Not much time is left for us to radically change the current consumption and production patterns.
It is distressing to know that about a third of the food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted annually. As much as 30 per cent of global energy is used for household purposes, and this consumption makes up 21 per cent of total CO2 emissions.
Talking about water, humans have acquired great skills in polluting water resources, and polluting rate is faster than the rate at which nature can regenerate or purify lakes and rivers.
Immediate intervention is needed before the whole system collapses.
As wealth grows, overall mass of material consumption generally increases. Every 10 per cent increase in gross domestic product contributes to a 6 per cent rise in the average national ‘Material Footprint’ (the attribution of global material extraction to domestic final demand of a country), according to a study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
The growth in global material footprint has outpaced population and economic growth. From 43 billion in 1990, material footprint jumped to 92 billion in 2017.
Significantly, the material footprint per capita of high income countries is found to be 13 times higher than that of low-income countries.
Countries perceive this threat and act in different ways. The Sultanate ranks among the few countries that are seriously committed to realising the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Oman was present at the UN Summit in September 2015 that adopted the SDG Agenda for 2030, and was one of the member states that agreed to put in all possible efforts to attain these goals. Oman has integrated all of the 17 SDGs into the Ninth National Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) of the Sultanate.
The first Voluntary National Report presented at the UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development last month looks at how successful the Sultanate has been in realising SDGs and also sheds light on the challenges in their implementation.
SDGs feature prominently in all of Oman’s long-term and short-term strategies and programmes. The country’s Vision 2040 too has incorporated the necessary policies and programmes that ensure achievement of SDGs.
Towards achieving SDGs, Oman’s Supreme Council for Planning established the National Committee for the Achievement of Sustainable Development Goals this year. Of the 169 targets and 244 indicators covered under the 17 SDGs set by the UN, Oman has 72 available targets and 100 available indicators.
The 9th Five-Year Plan stresses sustainable consumption and production plans and targets as one of its priority areas, and focuses on expanding the use of renewable energy, introduction of efficiency standards, and desalination plants among others.
Oman’s Vision 2040 underscores sustainable use and investment of natural resources, wealth, achieving food and water security based on renewable resources and efficient technologies.
Omani economy still depends on the oil sector to a large extent, and this poses a major challenge to the sustainability of production and consumption in the Sultanate.
Along with population growth, the growing amount of waste and its proper management, the optimal of available natural resources and increasing urbanization put great pressure on Oman’s drive towards sustainable production and consumption.
Notably, increased investments in waste management and ensuring economic returns out of it form a key initiative of the Sultanate towards achieving the goal of responsible production and consumption.