Sustainable Development Goals

Charting progress towards SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

Visualising global and regional trends

Adopted in 2015 by all United Nations (UN) members, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a global agenda for making the world a better place by 2030. They are described by the UN as a ‘shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet‘, and goals are to be achieved by all countries, in global partnership, by 2030.

This page provides a selection of visualisations on global and regional trends for Sustainable Development Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

The visualisations use the latest official data from the United Nations SDG Global Database.

Target 12.1

Implement the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns, all countries taking action, with developed countries taking the lead, taking into account the development and capabilities of developing countries


12.1.1Number of countries developing, adopting or implementing policy instruments aimed at supporting the shift to sustainable consumption and production

As of 2021, only 26 countries worldwide had in place national action plans for sustainable consumption and production (SCP) or had mainstreamed SCP as a priority or target in national policies. Half of the countries were in Europe and Northern America, indicating that the adoption of SCP policies is very uneven geographically.

Looking at the total number of policies in place for SCP worldwide, the latest data from 2021 shows a total of 656 policies in place worldwide, with two-thirds of these within countries in Europe and Northern America.

Note that the regional groupings used in the visualisation above (and all other visualisations on this page with regional data) follow the UN regional classification for the Sustainable Development Goals.

Target 12.2

By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources


12.2.1Material footprint, material footprint per capita, and material footprint per GDP
12.2.2Domestic material consumption, domestic material consumption per capita, and domestic material consumption per GDP

Note that these indicators are identical to those under target 8.4.

Global material footprint

The global material footprint is the total amount of raw materials extracted to meet final consumption demands. Over the past two decades, it has increased by almost 40 billion tonnes, reaching close to 100 billion tonnes in 2019.

A central challenge over the next decades is to achieve higher levels of resource efficiency so as to decrease the pressure on raw material extraction. Yet, since 2000 there have been only marginal improvements in the amount of raw materials needed per unit of wealth produced. In 2019 this stood at 1.1 kg of raw materials per unit of wealth produced.

Over the same time period, material footprint per capita has increased by over 30% to 12,4 tonnes (global average) in 2019, which underscores that at the moment there is world is not moving towards improved global resource efficiency.

Domestic material consumption

While the first indicator looks at the material footprint at the global level, the second indicator looks at domestic material use. It thus takes into account direct material use inside a country's territory (as well as any direct material imports and exports).

The latest data comparing 2019 with 2000, shows that material productivity has improved in most regions, i.e. less domestic material consumption per unit of wealth produced. Exceptions to this trend is in Latin America and the Caribbean as well as in Northern Africa and Western Asia.

Despite improved material productivity, when measured per capita/per person, the global country-average domestic consumption increased over the past two decades. Oceania (including Australia and New Zealand) as well as Europe and Northern America managed to achieve a decline in domestic material consumption.

Target 12.3

By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses


12.3.1(a) Food loss index and (b) food waste index

An estimated 13% of food is lost worldwide between harvesting and reaching retail markets. The share is approximately the same as in 2016. The largest food losses occur in Sub-Saharan Africa, where over 20% of food was lost before reaching markets. Food loss can be impacted by inefficiencies at the farm level, during transportation and storage, and during processing and wholesaling.

While "food loss" concerns what happens before food reaches consumers, "food waste" looks at how much food is discarded once after it has reached household, food service and retail levels. Data on food waste is sparse, but the UN has estimated that around 17% of food is wasted, with the majority of the waste (60%) happening at the household level.

Target 12.4

By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment


12.4.1Number of parties to international multilateral environmental agreements on hazardous waste, and other chemicals that meet their commitments and obligations in transmitting information as required by each relevant agreement
12.4.2(a) Hazardous waste generated per capita; and (b) proportion of hazardous waste treated, by type of treatment

The first indicator (12.4.1) measures the degree to which countries meet their commitments by transmitting data and information as required by each international agreement. Five international environmental agreements are tracked in the UN SDG indicator framework:

  1. The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (Basel Convention);
  2. The Rotterdam Convention on the prior informed consent procedure for certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides in international trade (Rotterdam Convention);
  3. The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (Stockholm Convention);
  4. The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (Montreal Protocol);
  5. Minamata Convention on Mercury (Minamata Convention),

As of 2020, the Montreal protocol had the highest score of implementation (world average), followed by the Rotterdam Convention (75%), Basel Convention (61%) and Stockholm Convention (50%). No data is available on the Minamata Convetion at the world or regional level.

On the second indicator of hazardous waste (12.4.2), data is mainly available for e-waste at the global and regional levels. The latest data for 2019 shows that around only 23% of e-waste generated worldwide was collected and managed in an environmentally sound way. Regionally, the rate varies significantly, with almost half of all e-waste in Europe and Northern America at 47% collection rate compared to just 1% in Latin America and the Caribbean and 2% in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Target 12.5

By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse


12.5.1National recycling rate, tons of material recycled

As the indicator concerns the national recycling rate, data is not presented for global or regional trends.

Target 12.6

Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle


12.6.1Number of companies publishing sustainability reports

Since 2016, the number of companies publishing sustainability reports has more than doubled from around 2 600 to over 5 800.

A recent survey by UNCTAD and UNEP of 10,000 public companies worldwide showed that 60% of large companies published sustainability reports in 2021, also more than double the share in 2016.

While an increase in absolute numbers should be interpreted as a positive development, the current indicator does not assess whether company practices are actually moving in a sustainable direction.

Target 12.7

Promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities


12.7.1Number of countries implementing sustainable public procurement policies and action plans

No data is available at the global or regional level.

Target 12.8

By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature


12.8.1Extent to which (i) global citizenship education and (ii) education for sustainable development are mainstreamed in (a) national education policies; (b) curricula; (c) teacher education; and (d) student assessment

Note that the indicator is identical to the one under target 4.7.

There is ongoing work to develop the indicator used to measure progress towards this target. Each of the four components of the indicator (policies, curricula, teacher education, and student assessment), are measured by a range of criteria which taken together are given a score between 0 and 1, where 1 entails full mainstreaming of the Global Citizenship Education (GCED) and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). As of 2022, no data is currently available at the global or regional level.

Target 12.a

Support developing countries to strengthen their scientific and technological capacity to move towards more sustainable patterns of consumption and production


12.a.1Installed renewable energy-generating capacity in developing countries (in watts per capita)

Note that the indicator is identical to the one under target 7.b.

Renewable capacity in developing countries reach close to 246 Watts per capita in 2020, reaching 36% of total energy-generating capacity in developing countries. Hydropower has been the dominant renewable over the past two decades, yet over the past years growth in hydropower capacity has stalled, with solar and wind accounting for most of the increase. Renewable capacity has expanded in all regions, with the highest increase since 2010 occurring in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia.

Target 12.b

Develop and implement tools to monitor sustainable development impacts for sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products


12.b.1Implementation of standard accounting tools to monitor the economic and environmental aspects of tourism sustainability

To be expanded. Current data availability seems to be impacted by the pandemic, with a sharp decline in countries reporting data.

Target 12.c

Rationalize inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption by removing market distortions, in accordance with national circumstances, including by restructuring taxation and phasing out those harmful subsidies, where they exist, to reflect their environmental impacts, taking fully into account the specific needs and conditions of developing countries and minimizing the possible adverse impacts on their development in a manner that protects the poor and the affected communities


12.c.1Amount of fossil-fuel subsidies (production and consumption) per unit of GDP

Before the pandemic, governments spent $526 billion USD on subsidies and other support for fossil fuels, this amounted to around 0.62% of the total world GDP. From 2019 to 2020 the amount declined sharply and the latest data shows total fossil fuel subsidies at $375 billion USD which is 0.46% of the total world GDP. However, the UN notes in its SDG progress report that this decline should not be interpreted as a decline in subsidy levels, but rather that:

This drop was mainly due to low oil prices and reduced demand during the pandemic rather than structural reforms. In 2021, commodity and energy prices rebounded sharply, and we are likely to see a jump in both consumption and production subsidies for fossil fuels.

About the data

The data presented on global and regional trends are from the UN SDG Global Database.


  • First release November 2022

Terms of use

Link to our terms of use.

Qery AS supports the Sustainable Development Goals.