The sustainable use of resources and raw materials is fundamental to environmental policy and is reflected in a number of international strategies and programmes. According to the United Nations International Resource Panel (UN IRP), global resource extraction (minerals, ores, biomass and fossil fuels) has increased from 27 billion tonnes in 1970 to around 92 billion tonnes in 2017 and could double further by 2060. The IRP further estimates that the extraction and processing of raw materials cause around half of global greenhouse gas emissions and more than 90% of global species extinction and water scarcity.
Internationally, there has been a response to the developments and a number of policies and programmes have been developed.
The European Commission is one of the pioneers in the development of political strategies and programmes in the field of "waste / resources". As early as 2011, the Commission adopted a "Roadmap to a Resource-Efficient Europe" as part of the Europe 2020 strategy. The European Green Deal (EGD), the current strategy of the von der Leyen Commission, published at the end of 2019, includes the decoupling of economic growth from resource use as a central goal. As part of the implementation of the EGD, a new Action Plan for the Circular Economy and for a Cleaner and More Competitive Europe was adopted in March 2020, which aims to prioritise the reduced use and reuse of materials over recycling and to implement a "sustainable products policy". All member states are called upon to define appropriate national strategies. The new industrial strategy also aims to drive the development of new markets for climate-neutral and circular products.
At the suggestion of the German Presidency, the G7 founded a G7 Alliance for Resource Efficiency in 2015. The aim of the alliance is to exchange best practices on the economical and environmentally friendly use of raw materials and materials. This should help to secure jobs as well as create new ones and strengthen the quantitative and qualitative growth of the economy and environmental protection. Finally, the G7's pioneering role in the field of resource efficiency is intended to send a signal to other countries. Other G7 activities include the 2016 Toyama Famework on Materials Cycles and the 5-year Bologna Roadmap.
At its summit in Hamburg in 2017, the G20 decided to establish a resource efficiency dialogue with the aim of making the efficient and sustainable use of natural resources a core element of future G20 discussions. In addition, the G20 states want to work for a resource-efficient and sustainable global economy and promote sustainable production and consumption. Since the Paris Agreement, the interactions between climate protection and resource conservation have also increasingly come under the consideration of the G20 countries.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) supports the sustainable use of materials and the reduction of their negative environmental impacts by promoting strategies to increase resource productivity and implement waste management. The OECD develops material flow and waste databases, related indicators and publishes working papers, reports and recommendations.
The International Resource Panel (UNEP IRP) of the United Nations Environment Programme was founded in 2007 with the aim of consolidating and evaluating scientific data and studies on resource conservation in order to make them more accessible to decision-makers and the public. In doing so, key questions on the global sustainable use of resources are compiled and discussed by the Council's scientists.
UBA - European Resources Forum
Since 2012, the Federal Environment Agency has organised a major European or international conference every two years to discuss international strategies and programmes in the policy field of resource conservation. Similar events take place, for example, with the World Resources Forum or the World Circular Economy Forum.
Further activities in the international context on the topic of strategies and programmes in the context of resource conservation can be found, for example, at the UNEA (United Nations Environment Assembly) or at the World Bank.
In addition, many individual countries around the world have also developed strategies and programmes for more resource efficiency and circular economy. The European Environment Agency (EEA) publishes relevant information on EU countries in its publications. The report "Resource efficiency and circular economy in Europe 2019: even more from less" shows the current policies and targets of 32 European countries. The Federal Environment Agency has been investigating the monitoring of international resource policies (MoniRess) in a research project since 2016.
With its "Initiative for Resource Efficiency and Climate Action", the Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) promotes the development and implementation of resource conservation strategies in countries worldwide.