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Sustainable Consumption and Production in Africa UN CC:eLearn online course

The course will discuss the challenges and outlooks for sustainable development on the continent of Africa. It introduces participants to the key approaches, policies and international frameworks that aim to unlock more sustainable patterns of consumption and production.
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Young boy in greenhouse surrounded by seedlings
Boy in greenhouse surrounded by seedlings. Credit: UN CC:eLearn.
  • Level: Introductory
  • Time commitment: 6 hours
  • Learning product: online course (self-paced)
  • Sector: agriculture, energy, water
  • Language: English, Français
  • Certificate available: Certificate of Completion by UNITAR

This course is hosted on UN CC:e-Learnfunded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation – see the SDC Climate Change and Environment Network on weADAPT for more information. Please find the Sustainable Consumption and Production in Africa course, where you can download the syllabus and enrol for full access.


In this course, we will go on a journey to Africa and and discuss what are the challenges and outlooks for sustainable development on the continent. The course introduces you to the key approaches, policies and international frameworks that aim to unlock more sustainable patterns of consumption and production (SCP).

We will cover a number of aspects and various thematic areas: from energy efficiency – to climate-smart agriculture, from SCP tools, policies and international agreements – to behavioral change of individuals.

The course consists of five modules, each divided into several lessons.

*This article provides an overview of the course with selected videos acting as tasters. The full course with all videos, quizzes plus learning material can be accessed herethrough a free registration on the UNCC:e-Learn website. For more information on the course structure, methodology, learning objectives and completion requirements, please download the course syllabus.

Institutional background and trainer

To support the efforts of African countries to actively engage in the transition to an inclusive green economy, and the promotion of a shift to sustainable consumption and production (SCP) patterns, the EU has designed and developed ‘SWITCH Africa Green’ programme, implemented by the UN Environment regional office for Africa. The initiative supports seven African countries: Ghana, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Mauritius and South Africa to initiate or strengthen policies for mainstreaming SCP though regional, sub-regional and national activities.

The course supports learning on SCP in Africa and provides individuals and change agents with a comprehensive introduction to the SCP concept and application opportunities. The course is designed to raise awareness in the region in developing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating action that helps the transition towards SCP.

UNITAR would like to acknowledge the excellent collaboration with the UN Environment Regional Office for Africa in Nairobi, as well as SWITCH Africa Green in developing and delivering this e-learning course.

Who would find this useful?

The course is adapted for adults and particularly suitable for anyone working (or interested in working) in the field of sustainability, climate change, resource efficiency, rural or urban development, community engagement, policy development, training and capacity development, or international cooperation.

The course is geared towards change agents in Africa, who are looking to be involved in the process of developing, implementing and evaluating actions in support of SCP. Anyone form the public, civil society, private or academic world is welcome to join this course!

Course material

Module 1: Introduction to SCP: Definition, Rationale and Fundamentals

Module 1 sets the scene. Part 1 introduces the definition of SCP, discusses the rationale for advancing SCP, and outlines key principles and concepts. Part 2 presents the importance of SCP in the African context and draws linkages of SCP with poverty reduction and inclusive economic growth. Part 3 presents the concept of life cycle thinking, as a fundamental element of a systems approach to sustainability. The role of the private sector for advancing sustainable consumption and production in line with the life cycle approach is introduced.

Module 2: Designing and Implementing National SCP Policies and Action Plans

Part 1 of this modules describes a stepwise approach to developing and implementing SCP programmes, providing insight into the process of mainstreaming SCP policy, highlighting the importance of inter-governmental coordination and governance structures, which lead to successful SCP policy implementation. Part 2 introduces the main groups of tools and instruments for policy making. Part 3 provides example of national policies and action plans implemented at national, sectoral, or local level across Africa. It also explains the need for effective monitoring and evaluation of SCP policies and reviews the design and use to SCP indicators.

Module 3: Applying Policies for Sustainable Production: Addressing the Supply Side in Key Thematic Areas

Part 1 reviews Resource Efficiency and Cleaner Production (RECP), as well as other methods to strengthen resource efficiency in the industrial and manufacturing sector. Part 2 focusing on practical methods and effective policy mixes for promoting sustainable, climate-smart, and equitable agricultural production. Part 3 reviews how SCP can be implemented to increase the efficient use of energy and water. It also reviews practical methods and policy mixes to advance SCP through sustainable waste management.

Review how SCP policy tools and instruments can be combined into effective policy mixes to ensure the sustainable growth of key economic domains.

Module 4: Applying Policies for Sustainable Consumption: Addressing the Demand Side

Part 1 reviews the sustainable lifestyles in Africa today and practices for supporting sustainable consumer behaviour through tools such as The Four-E approach, as well as, the current urbanization trends in Africa to make the case for rethinking urban planning. Part 2 reviews policies and programmes for consumer information and access to sustainable products, also examining the importance of eco-labelling, choice editing and public procurement in this area. Part 3 explores emerging policy options and mixes for advancing sustainable consumption through behaviour change policy.

Module 5: International and Regional Collaboration to Achieve SCP

Module 5 reviews how current international and regional sustainable development frameworks can support SCP in the African context. Part 1 traces the evolution of SCP in international agenda and review its current place in the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Part 2 explains the objectives and work of the 10YFP on SCP, the One Planet Network, as well as the Africa Regional Roadmap for 10YFP. Part 3 discusses key regional initiatives that can support regional advancement on SCP.

Module 6. Completion Requirements and Course Evaluation

In order to receive the Certificate of Completion by UNITAR, participants need to pass 4 out of 5 Module assessment tests with a score higher than 70%. For each assessment test participants will be allowed 3 attempts

To collect participants’ views of the course, a final evaluation questionnaire is made available, under the Achievement section. Completing the final evaluation is mandatory for all participants and learners’ feedback and suggestions will be taken into account in view of improving future editions of the course.

Learning outcomes

Participants will learn about different concepts and facets of the SCP, as well as regional, national and sector-specific challenges and opportunities to advance policies promoting resource efficient and sustainable consumption and production. Additionally, participants will begin to develop basic skills for applying the SCP concept in a real world economic, policy and professional context.

After completing the course, participants will be able to:

  • Define the concept of SCP and explain its value for Africa and globally
  • Distinguish key elements of effective policies for SCP
  • Discuss how can SCP be advanced specific sectors and areas
  • Explain the role of consumers and individual choices for SCP
  • Identify global and regional initiatives that promote SCP

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