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Sustainable Use of Natural Resources

Resources are the backbone of every economy. In using resources and transforming them, capital stocks are built up which add to the wealth of present and future generations. However, the dimensions of our current resource use are such that the chances of future generations - and the developing countries - to have access to their fair share of scarce resources are endangered. Moreover, the consequences of our resource use in terms of impacts on the environment may induce serious damages that go beyond the carrying capacity of the environment. These effects risk being aggravated once the developing world has taken up growth and resource use similar to the industrialised countries.

Thematic Strategy on the Sustainable Use of Natural Resources

On 21st December 2005 the European Commission proposed a Strategy on the Sustainable Use of Natural Resources used in Europe. The objective of the strategy is to reduce the environmental impacts associated with resource use and to do so in a growing economy. Focusing on the environmental impacts of resource use will be a decisive factor in helping the EU achieve sustainable development.

This is the third Thematic Strategy that the Commission adopted following the provisions of the 6th Environmental Action programme (6 EAP). The Action Programme addressed the issue of resources and called for the development of a Thematic Strategy on the sustainable use of natural resources (Resource Strategy). The objective can be described as: "ensuring that the consumption of resources and their associated impacts do not exceed the carrying capacity of the environment and breaking the linkages between economic growth and resource use".

International Panel

International Panel on Sustainable Resource Management

This initiatives finds its origine in the strategy on the sustainable use of natural resources. The Panel aims to provide scientific evidence to underpin the delivery of policies on resource efficiency. Made up of leading scientists, it was set up in 2007 under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to provide authoritative and independent advice to decision makers globally. The first report "Assessing biofuels" was launched on 16 October 2009. The Panel will deliver further reports on topics including the decoupling of environmental degradation from economic growth, the environmental impacts from production and consumption and metal recycling.

For more information and the first report click here.

Follow-up of the Thematic Strategy on the sustainable use of natural resources: Studies

Background - Preparation of the Thematic Strategy

  • Information event of 16 January 2006