Achieving sustainable development depends on comprehensive approaches which integrate consumption and production initiatives. At present, sustainable consumption is being overemphasized to the neglect of the more important production side. This paper examines the role of governments in promoting sustainable consumption and production to identify gaps in national schemes which reduce their overall effectiveness. Public policy tools promoting sustainable consumption and production are discussed in terms of whether they are aimed at correcting: 1) market failures (regulations, taxes, subsidies); or 2) systems failures (labels, communications, education, public procurement). The challenge for governments is to link sustainable consumption initiatives to policies aimed at increasing the sustainability of production in the private sector in both their national and international dimensions. In this way, governments can enlist the aid of consumers in pushing producers towards sustainability and to achieve the ultimate goal of sustainable development.