Canadian Consulting Engineer

World can’t sustain more use of resources, says UN

The United Nations has warned that the world is already running out of cheap sources of some essential materials such as oil, copper and gold.

May 24, 2011   Canadian Consulting Engineer

The United Nations has warned that the world is already running out of cheap sources of some essential materials such as oil, copper and gold.

According to a report from the International Resources Panel of the UN’s Environment Program (UNEP): “human beings could devour an estimated 140 billion tons of minerals, ores, fossil fuels and biomass per year — three times the current consumption rate, unless economic growth is “decoupled” from natural resource use.”

Currently developed countries consume on average 16 tons of the above four key resources per capita – ranging up to 40 tons per person in some countries. But in comparison, in India today, the average person consumes four tons per year.

“With the growth of both population and prosperity, especially in developing countries, the prospect of much higher resource consumption levels is “far beyond what is likely sustainable,” the report warned.

The report calls for “doing more with less,” and for a massive investment in technological and other innovations to help developing nations follow a more sustainable path.

Achim Steiner, the UNEP executive director, also called for a transition ot a “low-carbon, resource-efficient green economy,” in order to “stimulate growth, generate decent kinds of employment and eradicate poverty in a way that keeps humanity’s footprint within planetary boundaries.”

Construction and the building industry consumes a huge amount of resources, both in materials and energy.


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