The production of energy from non-renewable fossil fuel resources is not sustainable and the production, generation and distribution of energy is a primary driver of greenhouse gas emissions, which are causing climate change. While there is a shift towards the use of renewable energy sources (wind, solar, hydropower), the transition is not happening fast enough to mitigate climate change. Several participants of the 2023 Green Action Week focused their campaigns on supporting the transition to renewables.
Bringing about sustainable consumption relies on significantly reducing and eventually eliminating waste. Waste refers to anything that is discarded through the production cycle or after consumption. If not reused, recycled or upcycled, waste (clothing, food, electronic, plastic packaging etc.) accumulates in landfills and natural spaces. As waste decomposes over time – and for some products that could be several lifetimes – it releases chemicals and other compounds into the air, soil and water bodies. These pose a health risk – to people and to ecosystems. The circular economy approach focuses on reusing and recycling resources to make the most of them throughout their lifecycle. Many Green Action Week campaigns focused on reducing and recycling waste and boosting a circular economy approach.
When we lose indigenous and local varieties of food and seed, we also lose the knowledge and cultural identity associated with it. Local and indigenous varieties tend to be more resilient to climate change, are increasingly being recognised as having higher nutritional value, and are embedded into many social and community rituals. Several Green Action Week participants used their campaign to raise awareness of the benefits of these varieties, often showcasing ways to prepare and cook them.
Food is not a commodity, it sits at the heart of social life, part of many cultural customs and identities. When food is abstracted into a commodity, often made far away from the place of consumption, the resources used to make it are not visible, how it is made is not transparent, and payment for it takes money out of local economies. We need to revive food cultures that support local producers, consume seasonal and nutrient-dense, chemical-free foods, and that support beneficial community life. Many of the Green Action Week 2023 participants used their campaigns to show how food and farming can be reimagined as a cultural and community good.
Green Action Week is a global campaign involving more than 40 nongovernmental and community-based organisations that work towards supporting sustainable consumption. They do this under the theme of Sharing Community. The notion of Sharing Community is a principle-led movement towards building a world in which consumption delivers benefits for the common good and in which there is equality and respect for all, as well as social and economic justice. A Sharing Community is characterised by collaboration and a focus on building relationships to overcome common challenges.
Green Action Week 2024 was alive with exciting campaigns hosted around the world focused on the many aspects of consumption that we need to shift to allow a sustainable world to emerge. Of the 40-plus participants, some focused on sharing information on sustainable consumption and best practices to bring it about. This work needs to happen at many levels – with governments, with industry and with communities and individuals.