What is the problem?
The supply of resources is limited, and our natural resource base is being eroded. Growing global demand is adding to the pressure on the environment, and competition for many resources is increasing. Many natural resources are fundamental to our health, well-being and quality of life, so it is essential that we respect the natural limits of the planet.
Europe relies on the rest of the world for resources like fuel and raw materials, and these resources are also embedded in products we import from outside the EU. Scarcities and volatile commodity prices can bring about instability in many regions of the world, so we need to look at the global picture.
How can these problems be remedied?
It is perfectly possible to produce more value with fewer inputs, to lessen our impact on the environment, and to consume in a more intelligent fashion. We can use more efficient alternatives instead of many of the current resources, and we can boost recycling, for example. But if European society is to become more resource efficient, millions of firms and consumers will need to be mobilised. Prices need to change to better reflect environmental and social costs: this would improve the economic system, providing the right incentives and signals for producers and consumers. Most importantly, coherent public policies must be put in place to enable such a reform and push it forward.