Achim Steiner, former Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), tackles the challenge of worldwide resource use and conservation, and points out the great gains that can be made through efficiency of production and consumption.
The need for responsible management of the planet’s natural resources has never been more apparent, urgent or within reach. Policy-makers, including those within the Commonwealth, have a unique opportunity to catalyse changes in consumption and production patterns that can bring in a new era of a more equitable and sustainable development.
Our relationship with natural resources has changed dramatically over the past century. Between 1900 and 2009, the extraction of resources climbed from 7 billion tonnes to 68 billion tonnes. Now it is set to double in just one-third of that time, with predictions it will reach 140 billion tonnes by 2050. Already, much of this consumption is highly inefficient and wasteful, causing severe environmental and economic impacts. Research by the International Resource Panel and others has shown that resources are diminishing and prices are rising. If we continue along the same path, how much longer can our planet sustain this way of life?
*Statistics within article correct at original publication date of CHOGM 2015 Report.
Former Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and Administrator of the UNDP Excecutive Board