“More than you’ll ever need … inside!”

“More than you’ll ever need … inside!”

In keeping with our recent focus on consumption I was struck by the call of a Sri Lankan scientist to assist “rich countries to curb their climate-damaging consumption habits through a set of consumption goals  – in the same way the poor have ‘Millennium Development Goals’   (MDG’s) to get them out of poverty”.

What a brilliant idea!  His reasoning is obvious: 20% of the worlds richest people are responsible for 80% of consumption.

And of course, the always impressive team at the Worldwatch Institute in Washington responded to the call with a first draft:

  • halve obesity and overweight rates by 2020;
  • halve the work week from the current 40+ hour per week to 20 hours per week (yes please, bring it on!!);
  • better distribute wealth by raising taxes on the wealthiest members of society (how on earth were they able to amass so much personal wealth in the 1st place?);
  • double the rate of non-motorised transport (cycling, skateboarding, walking, rollerskating etc);
  • guarantee access to health care and so on.

At this point the author invites us to come up with three more goals to match the eight MDG’s. Personally,  I don’t think the number of goals matter and would rather focus on the quality.  A set of Millennium Consumption Goals could be helpful in providing a framework for corporate sustainability programmes as long as it doesn’t just create a layer of bureaucracy and is clearly focused on action.

If you are interested in reading the original Worldwatch Institute’s article plus the many comments it prompted  click here.

Other relevant links and resources:

  • The United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals – “The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015 – form a blueprint agreed to by all the world’s countries and all the world’s leading development institutions. They have galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest.” (quoted from website)
  • The Australian Business 4 Millennium Development – (B4MD) believes that Australian businesses have the opportunity to do much more to reduce poverty while developing business with the emerging markets of the Asia Pacific region. B4MD is supported by its founding members IBM, KPMG, Oil Search, Visy and World Vision Australia and the Australian Government through AusAID, the Australian agency for International Development. (quoted from website)
  • The Worldwatch Institute ‘s mission is: “The Worldwatch Institute delivers the insights and ideas that empower decision makers to create an environmentally sustainable society that meets human needs. Worldwatch focuses on the 21st-century challenges of climate change, resource degradation, population growth, and poverty by developing and disseminating solid data and innovative strategies for achieving a sustainable society.” (quoted from website)
  • Meryl

    I think that taxing the rich is counterproductive. Encouraging them to be more philanthropic is better, they are generally clever and have access to all sorts of resources – look at Bill Gates and his contribtion to the vaccination programs worldwide. He will make much more of a difference than the government that distributes the taxes they collect from him. Until governments work out how to spend tax effective;y they can’t be trusted !

    • you certainly have a point there and I tend to agree. but it does annoy me that people can get very rich and do nothing else but feather their own nest and destroy the common good at the same time. there has to be something that can be done about that without stifling innnovation! I think whoever comes up with the solution is going to be rich themselves….

  • ridethewildsurf

    It is certainly true that you cannot trust governments or beaurocracies with money. But how to convince the rich to give away their money – they love accumulating it too much.

    A very clever and nice thought from Sri Lanka.

  • Adriana

    Thanks Ulrike for making us think outside our Australian comfortable lives – we need to be more aware of what issues and problems that affect other worlds, and, what little steps we can each make to help, even if it’s just awareness raising.

  • Thanks for this good post! MCG is NOT an enforced tax on the rich. It is proposed as a voluntary set of targets for the willing (cities, communities, companies, individuals, etc.), with eventual support from the UN and governments.
    For more on the Millennium Consumption Goals Initiative (MCGI), see our web site: http://www.millenniumconsumptiongoals.org/
    and read the article:

    • Hi Mohan, thanks so much for the clarification and you kind words. I also understood it to be voluntary goals and it makes a lot of sense. Please keep me posted on developments and I will share them on my blog.