VC501 – Design Manifesto: Facts and Figures

Global consumption is reducing, but is still high. From figures taken in 2005, the wealthiest 20% of the world accounted for 76.6% of total private consumption. The poorest fifth is just 1.5%. Breaking that down further, the poorest 10% accounted for just 0.5% and the wealthiest 10% accounted for 59% of all the consumption. Back in 1995, the inequality in consumption was higher, but the United Nations also provided some eye-opening statistics (which do not appear available yet, for the later years) worth noting here:

“Today’s consumption is undermining the environmental resource base. It is exacerbating inequalities. And the dynamics of the consumption-poverty-inequality-environment nexus are accelerating. If the trends continue without change — not redistributing from high-income to low-income consumers, not shifting from polluting to cleaner goods and production technologies, not promoting goods that empower poor producers, not shifting priority from consumption for conspicuous display to meeting basic needs — today’s problems of consumption and human development will worsen.
… The real issue is not consumption itself but its patterns and effects.
… Inequalities in consumption are stark. Globally, the 20% of the world’s people in the highest-income countries account for 86% of total private consumption expenditures — the poorest 20% a minuscule 1.3%. More specifically, the richest fifth:
•    Consume 45% of all meat and fish, the poorest fifth 5%
•    Consume 58% of total energy, the poorest fifth less than 4%
•    Have 74% of all telephone lines, the poorest fifth 1.5%
•    Consume 84% of all paper, the poorest fifth 1.1%
•    Own 87% of the world’s vehicle fleet, the poorest fifth less than 1%
Runaway growth in consumption in the past 50 years is putting strains on the environment never before seen.” – Human Development Report 1998, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) – Emphasis Added. Figures quoted use date from 1995.

Sections of this post are sourced from: http://www.globalissues.org/issue/235/consumption-and-consumerism

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