UN launches new guide on sustainable consumption and production

6 September 2005

The public must be alerted when lifestyles harm the environment, but what if there is little or no public money to mount a campaign to promote changes? And what is a Government to do when the public wants both high spending and low taxes? The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is offering some answers.

The public must be alerted when lifestyles harm the environment, but what if there is little or no public money to mount a campaign to promote changes? And what is a Government to do when the public wants both high spending and low taxes? The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is offering some answers.

They come in a new guidebook called “Communicating Sustainability,” published by (UNEP) for the second international expert meeting on environmental sustainability, also called the Marrakech Process, in San José, Costa Rica.

A compendium of 16 innovative public campaigns to change attitudes and lifestyle choices to protect the environment include an “Environment Train” exhibition criss-crossing Algeria, a radio series on pesticide pollution in Viet Nam and a campaign on reducing damage to the ozone layer in Costa Rica.

“The impacts of our consumption patterns are no longer vague and invisible,” UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer said in his foreword to the guide. “Public communication has a key role to play to make sustainable development approachable and understandable. Informed, motivated and committed people can help us to achieve our sustainability goals.”

Communicating effectively about sustainable lifestyles is a challenge, however, he said. “One needs to consider not only what to communicate, but how to communicate it. The lesson to be learned is that communication styles have to be positive and tailored to different circumstances and cultural contexts.”

Over 160 experts representing 75 countries are attending the San José meeting to review the conclusions of regional consultations and to establish ways to improve international cooperation on the implementation of environmental policies, such as tackling waste and pollution from tourism, trade, energy use and transportation.

Two years ago, in Marrakech, Morocco, the First International Meeting on the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production concluded that priority should be given to raising public awareness of the environmental benefits of sustainability.

 

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