Key MCG Questions for Discussion by Stakeholders

Millennium Consumption Goals (MCG) for the rich (in both developed and developing countries), to complement MDG for the poor, was the theme of a proposal made recently during UN discussions for the 2012 UN Conference on sustainable development (UNCSD2012 or Rio+20). A short article describing the idea can be downloaded from:

We are building a broad coalition to move the MCG idea forward. It is multi-level, pluralistic and transnational. We believe that action can be taken NOW by individuals, families, communities, organizations, cities, regions and countries. They can develop their own specific versions of MCG (tailored to their own circumstances), implement them, and monitor and report progress — so there is no need to wait for broad multilateral agreements at the UN-global level which will progress more slowly!

There is broad initial support, but we need stakeholder advice on how to move this idea forward sensibly and systematically. Grateful if you could circulate this information widely among your colleagues. You may post your response, choosing one of several categories (business, civil society, government-UN, research, or general) on our main web site: . Alternatively, send an e-mail directly to <>.

Here are some preliminary thoughts and questions, just to get the discussion started:

1. What is the target group?
-   the top 20% percentile of income earners in the world (both developing and developing countries), or 15% or 25% percentile?
-   instead, should we use an “affluence line” (e.g., annual income > US$XX or wealth >US$YY), like the poverty line?

2. What are likely candidates for MCG, and how many should there be (say 8-10 MCG like the 8 MDG)? Some preliminary items might be:
-  energy (total use, more renewable vs. non-renewable energy, etc.)
- water (especially in water scarce regions)
- food (calorific intake, healthy diet composition – meat/grain/junk food, health benefits, obesity reduction, etc.)
- carbon emissions
- transport (cars per family, more public vs. private transport, etc.)
- waste (solid waste, toxic waste, disposal and recycling, etc.)
- land use (dwellings, urban, rural, forests, natural habitats, etc.)
- lifestyles, livelihoods & work (healthy lifestyles, work conditions, recreation, fitness, etc.)
- more fundamental value changes in the direction of sustainability, over the longer term (social attitudes and behaviour, equity, ethics, education, youth focus, etc.)

3. What is the available data?
- for example, the energy or water consumption of the target group, including both direct use in the home and indirect use via embedded energy or water in products and services that are consumed?
- We have “carbon calculators” – can we develop simple water or energy calculators?
- If we have a baseline estimate for the mean per capita water or energy use or solid waste generated (say 100 units) within the target group, what might be a realistic reduction goal (say 90 or 95 units), which is reachable within a reasonable time frame (say 5-10 years), using known technologies/practices and without undue risk to the existing quality of life?

4. How do we implement?
- What are the roles of consumers, producers and govt. in achieving these goals?- What is the balance between voluntary actions and behaviour change encouraged by social pressures versus govt. policies and measures to change consumption habits?
- What are the most effective policy instruments and measures?
- How can businesses contribute by minimizing their use of scarce resources, and making more sustainable products available, with effective labeling, advertising and information to consumers?
- Going beyond individual actions and choices, how to change the big picture, like policies on urban planning, work rules, and large investments that lock us in to wasteful usage patterns?

5. How do global targets scale down?
- How to translate down to specific goals at the country level or below (e.g., province, city, community, organisation, family, individual)?
- How to build sufficient flexibility into global MCG, so that they can be adapted to reflect local characteristics in the downscaled goals?
- Do we need to harmonize across economies to maintain competitiveness?
- Who measures, reports and monitors?

6. How do we change the measurement and reporting of well-being?
- Current measures like GDP imply that more material consumption is better. How to develop measures that encourage sustainable development (e.g., include environmental and social externality costs), and make the public aware of them?
- What information do we provide to shift values, public opinion and behaviour in the direction of sustainable consumption and production in the long run (e.g., like attitude changes re. smoking during past decades)

7. How do the MCG relate to the Millennium Development Goals (MDG)?
- What is the linkage with meeting basic needs of the poor?
- How to increase the consumption of the poor along more sustainable paths?

8. Are these the right questions? What more is needed?

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