The United Nations will bring together environmental experts and government officials from nearly 70 countries in Morocco next week to take the first steps toward meeting what is perhaps the most challenging development goal of the twenty-first century - changing unsustainable patterns of consumption and production.
The UN's Sustainable Development Division and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) have organized the meeting, which will kick off on Monday in Marrakech. More than 100 participants are expected to open the international community's dialogue towards implementing one of the key commitments made by world leaders at last year's Johannesburg World Summit for Social Development (WSSD): to develop a 10-year framework of programmes for sustainable consumption and production.
According to UN statistics, the 15 per cent of the world's population living in high-income countries account for 56 per cent of the world's total consumption, while the poorest 40 per cent, in low-income countries, account for only 11 per cent of consumption.
"We cannot continue consuming the world's resources at the current rate without damaging the planet's life support systems beyond repair. It is important to build on the momentum generated by the Johannesburg Summit and to start implementing the Summit's decisions in this crucial area," says JoAnne DiSano, Director of the Sustainable Development Division.
The International Expert Meeting on a 10-Year Framework of Programmes for Sustainable Consumption and Production will follow up on Johannesburg's call to accelerate the shift towards sustainable lifestyles that promote social and economic development for all. Participants will discuss the structure and priorities for the 10-year framework to improve international cooperation, information exchange and assistance for developing countries.
The outcomes from the Morocco meeting will be submitted to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development for consideration as part of its post-WSSD work programme. Governments attending the Commission's first session since the Summit agreed last month that its future work should be organized on the basis of two-year cycles, each focused around thematic clusters of issues. Changing unsustainable patterns of production and consumption was identified by governments as one of the key crosscutting issues that need to be discussed in every Commission cycle.