Changing perceptions on consumption and production in the Mediterranean Region

on 16 June 2011.

One of the most challenging issues when promoting Sustainable Development is the shift toward Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP). This challenge was at the core of the latest regional workshop held within the framework of the Horizon 2020 capacity building programme. The two and a half-day seminar took place on 1-3 June 2011 in Budva, Montenegro, in conjunction with the 14th meeting of the Mediterranean Commission for Sustainable Development (MCSD) which also had SCP on its agenda this year.

The cross-cutting goal of Sustainable Development in the region can only be achieved through educating people on the issues of SCP. The workshop successfully drew together a group of 34 individuals ranging from policy decision makers and opinion leaders to representatives from Ministries of environment, education, etc., academia and civil society. The workshop was designed to increase knowledge, skills and interaction among participants, and encourage the fruitful exchange of views and experiences among professionals from neighboring countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Further to the presentations, case studies and numerous exercises, round table discussions engaged participants in an admittedly very rewarding process. To fully capitalize on the experience, participants ardently expressed their desire to have the course replicated in their own countries.

Overall, the workshop succeeded in linking together all the interdisciplinary components of the subject at hand. It emphasized on Education for Sustainable Consumption (ESC), which is an important integral part of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), and on raising public awareness, as strategies on SCP usually lack these necessary elements. Along the same lines, the group acknowledged that despite their extensive experience on sustainable consumption and production, they actually lacked at least part of the presented necessary tools, i.e. methodologies, to get the message through and raise institutional and public awareness, monitor and evaluate the results, etc. Ministries of education for example actually have little, if any, interaction with other ministries on the subject of SCP. Last but not least, the workshop managed to provide a solid theoretical foundation on the concept of Education for Sustainable Development showcasing its timeline in a coherent way, starting from antiquity and leading to the present date. With references to prominent thinkers such as Plato and Aristotle to current researchers, the trainers provided evidence on the roots of sustainability evolving hand in hand with human existence.

The trainees came from 12 countries including Albania, Algeria, Croatia, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Montenegro, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Serbia, Tunisia and Turkey. The workshop was jointly organized by the Regional Activity Centre for Cleaner Production of the Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP CP/RAC), the Mediterranean Information Office for Environment, Culture and Sustainable Development (MIO-ECSDE) and the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA) with the support of the Government of Montenegro.