Issued Papers & Articles

Policy Briefs on Resource Efficiency (2016)


Brief 1 | Brief 2 | Brief 3 | Brief 4 | Brief 5 | Brief 6 | Brief 7 | Brief 8 | Brief 9 | Brief 10

These Policy Briefs convey the main policy-relevant messages contained in the report of the International Resource Panel on "Resource Efficiency: Potential and Economic Implications".

10 Key Messages on Climate Change


Full article ENGLISH

This note draws on the findings of the United Nations’ expert panel on natural resources – the International Resource Panel (IRP) – to highlight some key policy-relevant messages on how sustainable management of natural resources can contribute to global efforts to combat climate change.

Policy Coherence Of The Sustainable Development Goals – A Natural Resource Perspective


Full article ENGLISH

This paper highlights the impact that pressures on the limited resource base may have on comprehensively fulfilling the aspirational and ambitious SDGs. It brings forth the need for an understanding of the nexus between components of the natural resource system and the natural and socio-economic ecosystems to identify the environment-development trade-offs envisaged in the implementation of the post-2015 global sustainable development agenda. These trade-offs can only be resolved if sustainable development policy strategies are coordinated and coherent across goals in the Sustainable Development Goals framework. The paper advocates that increased efficiencies of resource use in production systems along with reduction of wastes and unnecessary consumptive patterns (SCP) are necessary for sustainable development. And, that decoupling of economic activities from the use of natural resources and the impacts of use is a key SCP strategy for the success of the Global Sustainable Development Agenda. However, the report cautions that decoupling strategies would have to be applied differentially by developing and developed countries in context of resource distribution, priority needs of nations and stakeholder interests.

July 6, 2015

Managing and Conserving the Natural Resource Base for Sustained Economic and Social Development


Full article ENGLISH

A reflection from the International Resource Panel on the establishment of Sustainable Development Goals aimed at decoupling economic growth from escalating resource use and environmental degradation

February 7, 2014

Multi-Scale Governance of Sustainable Natural Resource Use—Challenges and Opportunities for Monitoring and Institutional Development at the National and Global Level

         Full article: ENGLISH

In a globalized economy, the use of natural resources is determined by the demand of modern production and consumption systems, and by infrastructure development. Sustainable natural resource use will require good governance and management based on sound scientific information, data and indicators. This paper, first published in Sustainability, summarizes the application of accounting methods and data sources for national material flow accounts and indicators, including territorial and product-life-cycle based approaches. It shows how accounts on natural resource use can inform the Sustainable Development Goals argues that information on natural resource use, and in particular footprint indicators, will be indispensable for a consistent implementation of the SDGs.

Reports & Publications

  • Unlocking the Sustainable Potential of Land Resources: Evaluation Systems, Strategies and Tools

    Land resources are one of nature’s most precious gifts. They feed us and help our societies and economies to thrive. Some 2.5 billion agricultural smallholders worldwide....

  • Food systems and natural resources

    Global food systems have radically changed over the last 50 years. Food production has more than  doubled, diets have become more varied (and often more energy-intense) satisfying people’s preferences ...

  • Options for Decoupling Economic Growth from Water Use and Water Pollution

    Global trends point to a relative decoupling of water – that is, the rate of water resource use is increasing at a rate slower than that of economic growth. The Options for Decoupling Economic Growth from...

  • Green energy choices: The benefits, risks and trade-offs of low-carbon technologies for electricity production

    This report represents the first in-depth international comparative assessment of the environmental, health and resource impacts of different low-carbon technologies for electricity production… ...

  • International Trade in Resources: A Biophysical Assessment                                                                                                                          

    This latest report from the IRP analyses the role of international trade in increasing resource efficiency, reducing environmental impact and promoting equitable and inclusive growth? ...

  • Assessing Global Land Use: Balancing Consumption with Sustainable Supply

    This report explores how the management of land-based biomass production and consumption can be developed towards a higher degree of sustainability across different scales: from the sustainable...

  • Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Consumption and Production: Priority Products and Materials

    This report focuses not on the effects of environmental pressure, but on its causes. It describes pressures as resulting from economic activities. These activities are pursued for a purpose, ...

  • City Level Decoupling: Urban Resource Flows and the Governance of Infrastructure Transitions

    This report examines the potential for decoupling at the city level. While the majority of the worlds population now live in cities and cities are where most resource consumption takes place, ...

  • Measuring Water Use in a Green Economy

    Water is an essential resource for virtually all aspects of human enterprise, from agriculture via urbanization to energy and industrial production. Equally, the many uses for water create pressures...

  • Decoupling Natural Resources Use and Environmental Impacts from Economic Growth

    Humankind has witnessed phenomenal economic and social development in the past century. However, there are increasing signs that it has come at a cost to the environment and to the availability of ...

  • Towards Sustainable Production and Use of Resources: Assessing Biofuels

    This report provides an overview of the key problems and perspectives and use of biofuels. It is based on an extensive literature study, taking into account recent major reviews.

  • Building Natural Capital: How REDD+ can Support a Green Economy

    This report advocates placing REDD+ into a larger planning framework that should involve multiple influences (especially those driving deforestation, albeit sometimes inadvertently).

  • Decoupling 2: Technologies, Opportunities and Policy Options

    This report was produced by the Decoupling Working Group of the IRP. It explores technological possibilities and opportunities for both developing and developed countries to ...

  • Metal Stocks in Society: Scientific Synthesis

    The continued increase in the use of metals over the twentieth century has led to a substantial shift from geological resource base to metal stocks in society. This report reviews the relevant literature on this topic.

  • Recycling Rates of Metals: A Status Report

    In theory, metals can be used over and over again, minimizing the need to mine and process virgin materials and thus saving substantial amounts of energy and water while minimizing environmental ...

  • Environmental Risks and Challenges of Anthropogenic Metals Flows and Cycles

    This report focuses on the impact of metals on the environment as well as on their life cycle energy use. Currently primary metals production is responsible for 78 % of the total global energy use ...

  • Metal Recycling: Opportunities, Limits, Infrastructure

    A key question that relates to the very broad and intensive use of metals is whether society needs to be concerned about long-term supplies of any or many of them. This is a many-faceted question ...