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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 the United Nations, between 2000 and 2019 alone, resource consumption worldwide increased by more than 65 % to around 95 billion tonnes. Each person generated over 7 kg of e-waste in 2019, of which less than a quarter was 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 more than 13% 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.

In KfW's opinion, the Corona crisis, which poses an immense challenge for the entire world, offers a good opportunity to "build back better", i.e. successively shifting production and consumption patterns towards sustainability. KfW is also committed to this, as well as to promoting Fairtrade and sustainable supply chains.

“Until now, climate targets have been secondary to land use”

Prof. Martin Herold from the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) Potsdam observes changes in the earth’s surface and its land use. He knows where forests are felled and for what purpose. In this interview, he explains how his research is contributing to greater supply chain transparency.

Interview with Prof. Martin Herold

Reuse of wastewater: Farmers rely on treated wastewater

In the West Bank, only a few crops thrive that have adapted to the extreme dry conditions in summer. But for the farmers west of the city of Nablus, a new source of water has now been found that will reduce their dependency on rain.

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KfW's contribution to SDG 12

  • A lot of waste next to a river


    Strengthening ecological-social responsibility among SMEs

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  • 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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  • Mangroves


    Protecting and sustainably using marine ecosystems

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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.