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SDG 12 – Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Continuing to resolutely pursue the sustainable development agenda

The world is living far beyond its means: humanity’s footprint continues to grow due to its consumption of resources. According to information from the United Nations, between 2010 and 2017 alone, resource consumption rose by nearly one fifth from approximately 73 billion to close to 86 billion tonnes. Electronic waste actually increased by 38%. Only 20% of it is currently being recycled.

So it is easy to imagine how large the footprint will be in just a few years if we do not radically change course. Our production and consumption patterns are not sustainable, especially when the world population is expected to rise to nine or ten billion people at some point. The Club of Rome came to this conclusion long ago in its legendary 1972 report “The Limits to Growth”. The international community responded to that realisation by establishing sustainable development as an objective at the Rio Summit in 1992 and later anchoring it in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

However, it is also clear that developing countries have a good deal of catching up to do when it comes to production and consumption of goods. The number of people suffering from poverty, hunger and lack of access to energy continues to be unjustifiably high. Accordingly, the solution cannot just be to curb consumption; instead, we will need to find ways to align the entire economic system with sustainable principles to create green economies. Such solutions can grant people access to the things they need to lead safe and autonomous lives without overburdening the planet in the process.

Green economy, green recovery

KfW supports this type of transformation towards green economies through its work in Germany and in developing countries and emerging economies. This progress is made in many different ways: for instance, KfW funds are used to build warehouses and cold storage centres so food that has already been produced does not go to waste, as around 14% of it does at present globally.

Other examples include more efficient irrigation methods, such as in Mali, projects for sustainable fishery in Mauritania, greater energy efficiency in buildings and electrical appliances, such as in Mexico, or promoting sustainable agricultural production methods in Latin America and Africa. Preventing waste and establishing a circular economy are also among the goals KfW is promoting with relevant projects.

KfW believes the coronavirus crisis, which has been an immense challenge around the world, is a good opportunity to recover forward and a chance to gradually align production and consumption patterns with sustainability. KfW also makes every effort to participate in these projects because “there is no alternative to the sustainable development agenda”, as its Chief Executive Officer Dr Günther Bräunig has often stated.

SDG 12 on the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development website (German only)

A waste-free economy

If we want to live in a future where the environment remains intact, we will need to drastically reduce the amount of waste we produce. This is why KfW and other partners are now investing billions in a European circular economy.

Read more on KfW Stories

Why we need a circular economy

Around the world, more and more people consume more and more resources. Raw materials are becoming scarcer and waste volumes are constantly on the rise.

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KfW's contribution to SDG 12

  • a lot of waste at the beach


    KfW is a member of the PREVENT Waste Alliance

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  • coffee cooperative employee


    Fair prices for smallholders

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  • A lot of waste next to a river

    Natural resources

    Circular economy holds the key

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  • Farmer sits on a tractor

    Reuse of wastewater

    Farmers rely on treated wastewater

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Turtle in the ocean with a lot of waste

Dossier Plastic waste

Here we present the Clean Oceans Initiative co-founded by KfW.