Global Resources Outlook 2019: Natural Resources for the Future We Want

GLOBAL RESOURCES OUTLOOK 2019 - Natural Resources for the Future We Want

For over 10 years, the International Resource Panel has provided scientific assessments of the trends in, patterns in and impacts of the way societies and economies extract, use and dispose of natural resources. This research has shown that the way in which we use natural resources has profound implications for the health and wellbeing of people and the planet, now and for future generations. Not only is the sustainable management of natural resources critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, but also, the International Resource Panel findings point to its essential ties to international aspirations on climate, biodiversity and land degradation neutrality.

The Global Resources Outlook 2019 builds on this body of evidence to present the story of natural resources as they move through our economies and societies. It is a story of relentless demand and of unsustainable patterns of industrialization and development. Over the last 50 years, material extraction has tripled, with the rate of extraction accelerating since the year 2000. Newly industrializing economies are increasingly responsible for a growing share of material extraction, a situation largely due to the building of new infrastructure. Virtually none of the massive growth in materials consumption in the new millennium has taken place in the wealthiest countries; however, not much of it has taken place in the poorest countries either, which make up the group in the most urgent need of higher material living standards.

This is the story of the unequal distribution of the benefits of resource use and its increasingly global and severe impacts on human well-being and ecosystem health. While extraction and consumption are growing in upper-middle income countries, high-income countries continue to outsource resource-intensive production. An average person living in a highincome country consumes 60 per cent more than someone in an upper-middle income country and over 13 times what is consumed by someone in a low-income country. Overall, the extraction and processing of natural resources account for more than 90 per cent of global biodiversity loss and water stress impacts and for approximately half of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Finally, it is a story that can, and must, be changed. Modelling undertaken by the International Resource Panel shows that by 2060, with the right resource efficiency and sustainable consumption and production policies in place, growth in global resource use can slow by 25 per cent, global gross domestic product could grow by 8 per cent - especially for low- and middle-income nations - and greenhouse gas emissions could be cut by 90 per cent as compared with projections for continuing along historical trends. Such projections are based on the understanding that growth rates in emerging and other developing economies must be balanced by absolute reductions in resource use in developed countries.

There exist economically attractive and technologically feasible innovations and policy actions that can transform our production and consumption systems in such a way as to achieve our global sustainability aspirations. However, action must start now. The International Resource Panel welcomes this opportunity to provide to the international community science-based and policy-relevant recommendations for sustainable management of natural resources that enables economic prosperity and human wellbeing while also remaining within planetary boundaries. We will continue to produce the Global Resources Outlook publication every four years to support essential global deliberations that include natural resources as part of the solutions towards sustainability, climate, biodiversity and land aspirations.

IRP (2019). Global Resources Outlook 2019: Natural Resources for the Future We Want. Oberle, B., Bringezu, S., Hatfield-Dodds, S., Hellweg, S., Schandl, H., Clement, J., and Cabernard, L., Che, N., Chen, D., Droz-Georget , H., Ekins, P., Fischer-Kowalski, M., Flörke, M., Frank, S., Froemelt , A., Geschke, A., Haupt , M., Havlik, P., Hüfner, R., Lenzen, M., Lieber, M., Liu, B., Lu, Y., Lutter, S., Mehr , J., Miatto, A., Newth, D., Oberschelp , C., Obersteiner, M., Pfister, S., Piccoli, E., Schaldach, R., Schüngel, J., Sonderegger, T., Sudheshwar, A., Tanikawa, H., van der Voet, E., Walker, C., West, J., Wang, Z., Zhu, B. A Report of the International Resource Panel. United Nations Environment Programme. Nairobi, Kenya.