Sustainable consumption and production key to better future

Melaka to host APAC roundtable in October, which will look into innovation, green financing and packaging industry


Work to reduce carbon emission in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region is progressing and is unlikely to be affected by the US’ decision to withdraw from climate change agreements in Paris, said an industry observer.

Prof Anthony Shun Fung Chiu from Philippine-based De La Salle University said governments in the region remained committed on their shared responsibility to reduce climate change and its negative impact on the environment and the economy.“It’s unlikely that the governments will renege on the commitment,” Shun, who is also a United Nation’s (UN) International Resource Panel member, told The Malaysian Reserve in a recent interview.

The Paris climate accord is expected to be discussed at the 13th Asia Pacific Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production (APRSCP) to be held between Oct 24-26 in Melaka.

The roundtable, themed “Enabling Sustainable Consumption and Production towards Achieving Green Growth”, is co-hosted by the APRSCP and Environmental Management and Research Association of Malaysia.

Earlier this month, the US administration began the formal process to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, but said it’s willing to “re-engage” if terms are more favourable to the US are met.

The state department said it notified the UN that the US will pull out of the global agreement as soon as it can under the terms of the 2015 accord, but President Donald Trump would agree to remain in the deal if it is reconfigured to suit US interests, according to a Reuters report.

The filing by the state department kicks off a withdrawal process that will take years to unfold and is largely symbolic. Under the terms of the deal, the earliest the US can formally remove itself from the accord is in November 2020 — just after the next presidential election, the report added.

Aside from the climate change accord, the three-day roundtable will focus on production and consumption of energy, water and industrial creation.

“The sustainable consumption and production is now receiving the highest attention from the world leaders. The topic will also be highlighted at the UN’s Environment Assembly later this year,” said Shun.

The roundtable is intended to develop smart partnerships in policies, professionalism and practices. Among other things, it aims to propel private and public sectors’ collaboration in sustainable consumption and production implementation and ownership towards green growth.

The APRSCP is an Asia-focused international and non-governmental organisation that promotes the sustainable consumption and production in the APAC region.

“The APRSCP was created 20 years ago to solve industrial problems. Every 18 months, we organise a platform for different stakeholders to have a discussion on matters revolving around the sustainability issue,” he said.

Over the years, more than 600 professionals have gathered at the APRSCP events to discuss and analyse setbacks in building sustainable industries.

Innovation and green financing will be another issue to be discussed at the roundtable as they are the enablers for green growth sustainable business. On the consumer side, the roundtable will focus on building sustainable lifestyles with low carbon emission.

Another topic of interest at the roundtable would be on the packaging industry. Under constant pressure from governments, the media and consumers alike, the industry is increasingly considering how its products can be made more sustainable. This is in the face of unprecedented environmental impacts on the planet due to waste generation, particularly in the fast-urbanising APAC.“There are two factors that impact sustainable packaging: The quality of the material used, and the quantity,” said Dr Hari Ramalu Ragavan, the roundtable’s technical committee chairperson, said in a statement released earlier.

“Through a life cycle analysis, companies can reduce the quantity of material used and ensure environmentally-friendly materials are sourced. Both will reduce the ecological impact of the product that is being packaged for the market by the company.”

In addition, he said companies are now designing packaging materials so that at the end of the life of the packaging, it can be recycled or reused.

Sustainable packaging is particularly important in the food industry. Developments in packaging have been a key driver in dramatically reducing the proportion of fresh produce that is wasted in the supply chain.

For example, food waste in the supply chain in developing countries is between 30% and 50%, compared to 2% in Europe where sophisticated packaging solutions are more prevalent, the statement added.