New Panel must boost resource-efficient growth and innovation, UN
Environment Programme says
New Scientific Panel on Sustainable Resource Management
Budapest/Nairobi/Paris, 9 November 2007 - Assessing the environmental
risks of biofuel production and metal recycling are two of the issues
likely to top the agenda of a newly formed global think tank on resource
Launched here today at the World Science Forum, the new "International
Panel for Sustainable Resource Management" will provide scientific
assessments and expert advice on the use intensity, the security of
supplies and the environmental impacts of selected products and services
on a global level.
"Climate change rightly tops the environmental agenda at the moment, but
the world faces more inconvenient truths that must be addressed," said
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which has established the
"Economic growth in our modern times cannot be achieved with old
consumption and production patterns - a point brought into sharp relief
by our new Global Environment Outlook-4 which shows that collectively
humans are over-utilizing the Earth's nature-based resources at a rate
that is outstripping nature's ability to renew and replenish them," he
"We need to provide a boost to resource-efficient growth and innovation.
We need to break the links between economic growth and environmental
degradation, and finding ways to achieve this "decoupling" is what the
new resource panel is all about."
Established by UNEP, with the support of a wide range of governments,
the European Commission and representatives from civil society, the new
scientific panel is part of an international partnership on resource
management. It will look at the impacts on resources and materials used
in all phases of their life cycle.
"Quadrupling resource-productivity worldwide (doubling wealth while
halving resource use) is the smoothest avenue to sustainable
development," according to Ernst Ulrich von Weizsaecker, Dean of the
Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the
University of California, and Co-chair of the Panel.
"We all agree that a lot more economic wealth is needed for six and a
half billion people let alone nine billion people that we expect to live
on earth by the middle of this century. On the other hand, we are
already now overexploiting the earth. It is fair to say that we should
reduce the consumption of carbon energy and other natural resources by
roughly a factor of two. It is high time for the UN System to address
the global resource challenges, and I feel honoured being invited to
help on this exciting agenda", he said.
"Humanity is facing its most serious challenge in how to interact with
the ecosystems that support us and all forms of life," said Ismail
Serageldin, the other Panel Co-chair and Director of the Library of
Alexandria. "We must find new and innovative ways to meet the needs of
an expanding population, richer diets, and the appetite for energy. We
must redesign the international and national policy environment so that
it nurtures the development and promotes the introduction of these new
The new International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management is
expected to provide hard scientific and empirical assessments, written
in a clear language about complex issues and reports which can be read
by those who can take action.
It is hoped that the Panel will assess the situation at the global level
and will advise which priority issues to address, for instance metal
recycling (should we 'mine or recycle', and what are the environmental
risks), or the complex issue of bio-based products (are we tackling
climate change, or are we 'burning our food' as some say).
The Panel is supported by a Secretariat, hosted by the Sustainable
Consumption and Production Branch of UNEP's Division of Technology,
Industry and Economics, based in Paris. See www.unep.fr
For More Information contact Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson, on Tel:
+254 20 762 3084, mobile: +254 733 632755, or e-mail:
[log in to unmask] or Robert Bisset, on Tel: +33 1 4437 7613, Mob: 33
6 2272 5842, e-mail: [log in to unmask]
UNEP News Release: 2007
Kathleen W. Pagan
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