Global Outlook Highlights Resource Extraction as Main Cause of Climate Change, Biodiversity Loss
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The Global Resources Outlook 2019, a major global report on the status and trends of natural resource use and management, was released during the fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly.

Prepared by the International Resource Panel, the Global Resources Outlook 2019 examines trends in natural resource use and corresponding consumption patterns since the 1970s, to support policymakers in strategic decision making and transitioning to a sustainable economy.

The report calls for an urgent systemic reform of resource use, to go beyond resource efficiency.

12 March 2019: The ‘Global Resources Outlook 2019,’ a major global report on the status and trends of natural resource use and management, was released during the fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-4). The report calls for an urgent systemic reform of resource use, to go beyond resource efficiency.

Prepared by the International Resource Panel, the ‘Global Resources Outlook 2019, themed ‘Natural Resources for the Future we Want,’ examines trends in natural resource use and corresponding consumption patterns since the 1970s, to support policymakers in strategic decision making and transitioning to a sustainable economy.

We are ploughing through this planet’s finite resources as if there is no tomorrow, causing climate change and biodiversity loss along the way.

According to the report, “the extraction and processing of materials, fuels and food make up about half of total global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and more than 90 percent of biodiversity loss and water stress.” By 2010, land-use changes had caused a loss of global species of approximately 11 percent. Since 2000, growth in extraction rates has accelerated to 3.2 percent per year, driven largely by major investments in infrastructure and higher material living standards in developing and transitioning countries, especially in Asia. However, the wealthiest countries still needed 9.8 tons of materials per person in 2017, mobilized from elsewhere in the world, which is also driving this trend.

“The Global Resources Outlook shows that we are ploughing through this planet’s finite resources as if there is no tomorrow, causing climate change and biodiversity loss along the way,” said Joyce Msuya, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Acting Executive Director. “Frankly, there will be no tomorrow for many people unless we stop.”

The report argues that resource efficiency is essential, though not enough on its own. “What is needed is a move from linear to circular flows through a combination of extended product life cycles, intelligent product design and standardization and reuse, recycling and remanufacturing,” it says. If the recommended measures are implemented, it could accelerate economic growth, outweighing the upfront economic costs of shifting to economic models consistent with holding global warming to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels this century. [Publication: Global Resources Outlook 2019] [Summary for Policymakers] [Summary for Business Leaders] [Publication Landing Page] [UNEP Press Release] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Global Resources Outlook 2019 Preview] [IISD RS Coverage of UNEA-4]


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