After decades that were mainly characterised from an environmental
perspective by energy, pollution and climate discussions, the issue of
resources, such as primary and secondary material resources, land
occupation, water usage, etc., is back on the agenda of politicians,
economists and societal leaders.
In particular, the rapidly
growing demand for energy and material resources by the recent economic
powers, China, India and Brazil, has led to rising resource prices; this
puts resource-intensive economies under strong economic pressure and
has also demonstrated shortages of various commodities in the markets.
an unprecedented clarity and speed - triggered by the mechanisms of a
globalised and ever-growing global economy - the need for action became
fundamental. Issues such as long-term secured access to resources are
central points of many national policies, since a notable security
dimension is often also applicable. So it is not surprising that among
others the European Commission as well as individual EU Member States
and the United States have formulated resource strategies.
International Resource Panel (IRP) under the leadership of the United
Nations (UNEP Environment Programme) has been established against the
backdrop of a growing world population with increasing resource demands,
for example through changing lifestyles. This is in line with the
sustainable development principles of equal access to natural resources
and their equal global distribution that was accepted by the UN
conference in 2007. The IRP shall be responsible for seeking an
independent, coherent and authoritative scientific assessment of the
sustainable use of natural resources and their environmental impact
throughout their entire life cycle, without having a sectoral focus.
“Responsible use of resources” profile strives to contribute to this
discussion and potential strategies on how to use resources more
responsibly, as well as to add value through a multitude of
interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary activities with a strong focus
on research and education.