Sustainable consumption and production (SCP) constitutes a turning point in the way sustainable development is tackled in the Mediterranean as it doesn’t only address the question of what and where pollutant emissions and environmental degradation take place but also why those are generated. The SCP approach involves (1) analyzing the way Mediterranean countries produce and consume goods and services, (2) identifying how and why those patterns of production and consumption contribute to the environmental degradation of the Mediterranean’s ecosystems and the generation of environmental and health risks due to chemical pollution and (3) implementing technical, policy, market, economic and information mechanisms through which shifting to SCP.
Implementing SCP involves a range of actions in which measures addressed to minimize the environmental impacts associated to the “production side” - i.e. cleaner production, energy efficiency, sound chemical management, etc - are to combine with the progressive implementation of mechanisms, such as sustainable public procurement or eco-labelling schemes, that integrate sustainable criteria within the value chains and the circle consumer-producer.
In order to involve the Mediterranean private sector in SCP, SCP/RAC works in triggering a change in attitude in Mediterranean companies and industries from a reactive to a proactive approach to environmental management of chemicals and hazardous waste and creating the conditions for them to move towards green competitiveness. In doing that it is essential to enhance the Best Available Techniques (BAT), Best Environmental Practices (BEP) and Cleaner Production (CP) as methods enabling industries to reduce pollution emissions and implement an environmentally sound management of water, material and energy flows. Likewise, it is necessary that governments create the appropriate regulatory and institutional frameworks to encourage and enable companies to adopt those mechanisms.
On the other hand, actions promoting the technical improvement of production processes in industries are to be accompanied with the progressive establishment of mechanisms that favour the market conditions encouraging businesses to shift to SCP and increasing consumers’ awareness and choice towards sustainable products. In this respect, the implementation of eco-labelling schemes plays a key role in increasing the visibility in the market of companies respecting environmental criteria while it gives reliable information for consumers to identify environmentally friendly products. Likewise, the application of Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP) by public organizations is becoming a crucial tool through which integrating environmental and social concerns in the supply change management of companies and organizations.
Tackling SCP is an added value to enhance new patterns of human and institutional behavior and innovative productive and social practices and values that enable economic development, environmental protection and an equitable distribution of wealth among countries of the region. In doing so, it is key the role to be jointly played by SCP/RAC jointly with the Mediterranean civil society in strengthening education and awareness raising on SCP as important and useful levers to facilitate the needed changes in attitudes, behaviors and knowledge. Indeed this is the right momentum to act. In this sense, nowadays, after overcoming the new millennium, people are progressively taking conscience of their own responsibility and capacity to act against the environmental degradation through their lifestyles and consumption choices. In few years, the environment has passed from being a specialized-sector matter to become a transversal issue, introduced into government’s priorities, businesses, TV advertisements, curricula in schools.