Need For Immediate Action To Prevent Global Natural Resources Depletion: UNEP

A call for immediate measures for stopping resource extraction to save the world from depletion was given by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) on Tuesday. According to the UNEP, the depletion of resources across the world has tripled since the 1970s.

Increases in the extraction of materials was identified as the factor that has resulted in increased climate change and biodiversity loss, said the UNEP, in its Global Resources Outlook 2019 report.

“The situation is likely to worsen unless the world urgently undertakes a systematic reform of resource use,” Janez Potocnik, co-chair of UN International Resource Panel which compiled and published the report. Potocnik made the comments while talking to journalists at the sidelines of the fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly.

Those who are in positions of power and in public offices need to be more proactive and protect the public interest by safeguarding natural resources, Potocnik noted.

Countries should not expect development unless they look upon natural resources as a marketing and beneficial resource system which is the need of the hour, he said.

“Resources in developing countries are critically endangered as uses of resources continue to grow higher than the economic growth,” he added.

There has been an increase of 3.2 per cent in the growth in extraction rates since 2000, the report noted. This growth has been driven by some major investments in infrastructure and higher material living standards in developing and transitioning countries, especially in Asia.

The report also however noted an increase in the use of biomass to about 24 billion tons in 2017 from 9 billion tons in 1970. The report noted that this use was primarily for food, animal feeds and energy.

There is an expected growth of 110 per cent in natural resource use between 2015 and 2060, the report also warned. That would result in forest depletion by more than 10 per cent and a 20 per cent reduction in other habitats like grasslands.

“The implications for climate change are severe, as there would be an increase in greenhouse gas emissions of 43 percent,” the report said.

There has been a doubling of the global population and a four time increase in global domestic product over the past five decades according to the report.

Compared to 27 billion tonnes in 1970, annual global extraction of materials reached 92 billion tonnes in 2017, claimed the UNEP report.

“The extraction and processing of materials, fuels and food make up about half of total global green gas emission and more than 90 percent of biodiversity loss and water stress,” the report added. About 11 per cent of global species were lost because of the change in land use by 2010, the report found out.

In order to ensure that there are no negative environmental impacts from positive economic growth, people would require to undertake far greater efforts if current rates of economic and consumption growth continues, the report noted.

“What is needed is a move from linear to circular flows through a combination of extended product life cycles, intelligent product design and standardization and reuse, recycling and remanufacturing,” the report says

(Adapted from

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