Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

This goal includes targets to substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction and recycling by 2030, promotes sustainable management of natural resources, sustainable lifestyles and consumption behaviour, and sustainable business practices and sustainability reporting for businesses.

MSMEs make up a core portion of economic activity, and thus reducing their environmental impact will be necessary to reach this goal. In Asia-Pacific countries such as India, for example, there is a significant number of MSMEs that belong to categories recognized as highly polluting industries: chemical and allied industries, leather industries, textile processing, drugs and pharmaceuticals, agro-chemicals and food processing industries.48 MSMEs find it hard to comply with environmental standards due to factors such as lack of information, lack of access to capital, lack of adaptation of environmental regulations to the social, economic and technical reality of local businesses and effective possibilities of control bodies, difficulty in recruiting qualified personnel, less awareness about environmental issues, and less environmental pressures from stakeholders. Building capacity of MSMEs in these areas is therefore key to the achievement of the goal.

Policy measures to support Goal 12:

  • Encourage MSMEs to reduce manufacturing impacts by substituting raw materials in products with post-consumer materials through recycling and upcycling.49
  • Promote incentives that significantly reduce waste and ensure that any unavoidable waste is utilized to the fullest degree (e.g. organic waste as fuel or fertilizer).
  • Encouraging local government provision of audit services to MSMEs to see where money is being spent, what waste it relates to and what MSME entrepreneurs could do to prevent negative environmental impacts as the first step to develop an impact reduction plan.50
  • Encouraging the creation of start-ups and MSMEs dealing with public procurement, consumer information (such as eco-labelling, certification), sustainable tourism, lifestyle education, building renovation, construction and food systems.

48 Aguilar, S. (2016). Promoting the Participation of Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs) in Green Public Procurement. The Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP) Programme of The 10-Year Framework Of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns (10YFP)

49 Edwards, C. (2018). UN's Sustainable Development Goals for Small Businesses.

50 Karlstrom, C. (2018). What impact can SMEs have on the Sustainable Development Goals? Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA).