I had the opportunity to attend the first meeting of ReGeneration 2030 in the Åland islands in August 2018. The focus of the meeting was the Sustainable Development (SDG) Goal (SDG) 12 of the United Nations (UN) agenda: sustainable consumption and production patterns 1.
ReGeneration 2030 is a movement led by young adults of the Nordic and Baltic countries, that aims to bring forward innovative solutions to help implement the UN agenda on SDGs into today’s decision-making process. The vision behind this movement is to bring together young adults to innovate and use existing solutions, which can be implemented by individuals, the civil society, businesses and the national legislation in building a sustainable future 2.
The ReGeneration 2030 Summit held in the Åland islands created an arena for young adults in the Nordic and Baltic countries to meet, exchange knowledge and experience and to reflect and act together 2. As per vision of this movement, the summit aimed to create solutions to help achieve the UN SDG 12: “sustainable consumption and production patterns” 1.
The summit combined lectures, workshops, and discussions covering topics such as the supply chain of production and consumption, zero waste, circular economy, sustainable tourism, and sustainable fashion. During the workshops, we aimed to create solutions to challenges taking into consideration the perspectives of civil society, NGOs, government officials, and the business sector.
One point from the workshops I would like to highlight was that even though there are will and an opportunity to move towards more sustainable solutions, irresponsible, trend-based consumption patterns and consumerism are significant challenges. It also made me think about today’s society in which consumerism is the norm, and how that norm could be changed.
What really opened my eyes was a workshop on sustainable fashion which also covered the topic of fast fashion. Did you know that the fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world? Have you ever thought about the cycle of your garments: what happens before you buy a garment and when you do not need it anymore? Were you aware that only a small percentage of clothes is recycled or reused, and a huge amount ends up as landfill or is incinerated? Have you thought about what materials your clothes were made of, the chemicals used, and how they were colored? For instance, did you know that besides the huge amount of energy consumed, making one pair of jeans requires thousands of liters of water and several kilos of chemicals? Do you repair your garments and take care of them? Have you ever thought that maybe you are buying too many garments based on seasonal trends?
At the end of the summit, the ideas brainstormed were put together into a manifesto. The manifesto summarized the vision of the movement, the commitments, and demands that need to be acted upon to achieve the SDG 12 in the Nordic and Baltic region. The vision of the manifesto is to make sustainable consumption and production the new norm in the Nordic and Baltic Sea region.
According to the manifesto, “we”, the ReGeneration 2030 demand:
- to be present in every decision-making process in all levels of society with practical influence in the promotion of the 2030 agenda
- to have more transparency of the production chains and easy, appealing and affordable ways to help make sustainable choices
- that companies, civil and political stakeholders work together to create a society based on the circular
“We” commit to:
- setting good examples for practicing a sustainable lifestyle including responsible, trend-resistant consumption and disposal, and inspiring other people around us as well.
- promoting the exchange of good practices and creating an education system, which uses practical tools to pass on the knowledge about sustainable development.
Finally, what I would like to highlight is that our current consumption patterns are simply unsustainable. The main message I would like to pass on from the event is that the actions of every single person matter. You can start with simple steps: avoid using plastic bags and water bottles, choose public transportation or walk/bike every time it is possible (also good for your health), eat less meat and/or add vegetarian dishes to your diet, and recycle. Be the example for the people around you. Critically rethink your own consumption patterns. Besides reusing and recycling, think about reducing!
- The United Nations (2017). Sustainable Development Goal 12 – Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns. Available from: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg12
- ReGeneration 2030 website: https://www.regeneration2030.org/
The manifesto will be published later on the ReGeneration 2030 website
Pictures by Anastasia Fedoseeva (Instagram: @anastasia.fedo)
Niina-Maria Nissinen is a public health professional from Finland and the news coordinator at GHNGN. She currently works as a research coordinator in Finland, and her work focuses on the long-term effects of prenatal alcohol/drug exposure.