The United Nations programme of action on sustainable development of 1992, also known as "Agenda 21", recognizes the importance of attaining ecologically and socially sustainable production and consumption patterns, including greater economic efficiency in the use of energy and other natural resources. The upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development, to be held at Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2002, is expected to also emphasize the need for further action by the world community towards these common goals.
During the past two decades many of the countries of the Asian and Pacific region have experienced impressive and above average economic growth. At the same time, however, disparities have also widened in many areas. Urbanization has been particularly rapid in many of the developing countries. Whereas the number of consumers able to afford better and more affluent lifestyles has been growing quickly in the urban/metropolitan areas, many peripheral rural communities have remained
under-serviced in terms of infrastructure development, essential social services or access to affordable modern energy supplies.
The periodical assessment of the state of the environment in the countries of the region points to some marked achievements towards formulating environmental policies. But it also calls for further urgent action to reduce growing threats to the ecology in urban and rural areas.
Whereas the inclusion of environmental concerns in local, national and regional policy decision-making is the prerogative of Governments, sustainable development can only be attained with the active participation of all concerned stakeholders in decision-making as well as in the actual realization of the sustainable development objectives. Decision-making on sustainable production lies primarily with manufacturers and other businesses. However, consumers ultimately decide on their consumption patterns.
Consumer organizations and similar socially and environmentally concerned community-based and civil society groups have a potentially important role to play in providing consumers with advice, legal counselling and the protection of their interests. With the increasingly rapid economic expansion and development throughout the Asian and Pacific region, the provision of independent and objective consumer information has become an important new area for policy intervention and public information services.
In the same manner as sustainable production implies greater resource and energy efficiency on the part of utilities and appliance manufacturers, sustainable consumption requires informed consumers able to exercise consumer sovereignty in their choices of lifestyles, appliances, fuels and alternative consumption patterns.
Over the past five years, the ESCAP secretariat has on various occasions conducted consultations with non-governmental organizations, and in particular with consumer organizations, on effective approaches and concepts regarding the improvement of consumer awareness and consumer information for the promotion of energy efficiency and sustainable energy use. In this context, the ESCAP secretariat has benefited greatly from its continuing cooperation with the Citizens' Alliance for Consumer Protection of the Republic of Korea. This publication presents the main outcomes and recommendations of the various jointly implemented activities together with selected background and discussion papers that may serve as a guideline to other NGOs as they develop, review or implement their own national or local efforts for the promotion of energy and sustainable consumption.
This publication comprises three parts. While Part One provides an introductory overview to the promotion of sustainable energy consumption in the residential sector of the region. Parts Two and Three present the general framework and case studies respectively, which could be used as possible models for similar initiatives in other countries. Part Two presents four selected background information papers on essential legal, technical and policy aspects of campaigning for energy efficiency. This information will be important to concerned non-governmental organizations which intend to engage in campaign work for the first time. Part Three aims at facilitating the exchange of information on best practices and presents five institutional profiles of selected energy efficiency promotion campaigns. The secretariat acknowledges with thanks the various contributions made by the individual authors.
Extrabudgetary resources for group training and for collaboration with concerned consumer organizations as well as resources for the printing and the distribution of this publication have been made available to the ESCAP secretariat by the Government of the Republic of Korea under the Korea-ESCAP Cooperation Fund. This generous support is gratefully acknowledged.