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Sustainable resource consumption to save $3.7 trillion

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Staff writer ▼ | June 9, 2014
Investment in new technologies and innovations to enhance sustainable consumption of natural resources could save the world up to $3.7 trillion, a report by UNEP affiliated International Resource Panel.
Sustainable resourceInvestment in new technologies and innovations to enhance sustainable consumption of natural resources could save the world up to $3.7 trillion, a report by UNEP affiliated International Resource Panel.


The report noted over-extraction of natural resources like timber, hydrocarbons, water and fisheries will disrupt ecological health, economic growth and social cohesion.

"The worldwide use of natural resources has accelerated. Annual material extraction grew by a factor of eight through the 20th century-causing severe environmental damage and depletion of natural resources," UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said.

The "Decoupling 2: Technologies, Opportunities and Policy Options Report" by UNEP revealed that prices for timber, metal, hydrocarbons and rubber have spiked due to high consumption patterns. According to the report, prices for metal, rubb Countries have felt the impacts of unsustainable consumption of natural resources as evidenced by volatile food prices and environmental degradation.

The report emphasized harnessing technologies and innovations to boost resource productivity will insulate nations from economic and environmental shocks.

"Dramatic improvements in resource productivity are a vital element of a transition to a green economy that will lift one billion people out of poverty and manage the natural resources required for the well being of nine billion people by 2050," said Mr. Steiner.

The UNEP report noted a range of decoupling technologies have enabled countries boost resource productivity by ten times. It revealed advanced technologies have improved water and energy efficiency in agriculture, construction, hospitality and manufacturing sectors.

The Decoupling report noted that advanced furnace technology could achieve 40 percent reduction in energy intensity for zinc, tin, copper and lead smelting.

To achieve resource use efficiency, the UNEP report challenged countries to remove existing barriers like subsidies for energy and water use, outdated regulatory frameworks and technological biases.

"There is need for an urgent rethink of current practices, backed by massive investments in technological, financial and social innovation," said Mr. Stainer.

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