Resources, Policies and Practices

« The World Resources Forum (WRF) is the science-based platform to exchange knowledge about the economic, political and environmental implications of global resource use. The WRF promotes innovation for resource productivity by building bridges among researchers, policymakers, business, SMEs [1], NGOs [2] and the public. Flagship activity is the annual WRF Conference ».
(from the World resources forum).

GIF - 21 ko

This year, the annual conference will be held in Arequipa (Peru) from the 19th to the 22nd October and, according to the Peruvian Ministry of Environment, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, it will be about « promoting responsible industry and commitment ». Bas de Leeuw, WRF Managing Director, in an interview for the magazine Arequipa Empresarial, added : « It is necessary that all players involved clearly understand what the problem is and what solutions there are. In particular the link between energy and resources, mining and recycling, lifestyles and education will be key themes in the conference ». « There is a global concern in regard to natural resources use caused by economic development. One of the challenges that the WRF addresses is the innovation needed to improve the management of resources and secondly, to ensure that the necessary economic development occurs within the parameters of a sustainable resource use », said Marcos Alegre Chang, director at the National Cleaner Production Centre (CER). And the national coordinator of the Sustainable Recycling Industries (SRI) projects in Peru, Oscar Espinoza, pointed out that « the management systems of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) that are being implemented in Peru are based on the environmental principle called the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) [3], which has been applied for the first time in Peruvian environmental legislation ».

« Natural resources are the basis for life on earth. However, rapidly growing consumption is pushing the earth’s carrying capacity to the limit. Humans today extract and use around 50 percent more natural resources than they did only 30 years ago – around 60 billion tonnes a year. Given current growth trends, extraction of natural resources is expected to increase to 100 billion tonnes by 2030. At the current rate of use, the world’s natural resources base is in danger of over-exploitation and collapse. As the global population increases, and more people lead resource-intensive lifestyles, we are making ever-higher demands on the planet. This creates competition between different regions of the world, resulting in high resource prices which impact the poor, and competition between different uses of resources – for example whether land is dedicated to food or fuels ».
(from the Friends of the Earth website).

Our challenge is thus to rethink the current model of economic globalization and promote solutions to create environmentally sustainable and socially just societies. Now the question is whether this is (still) possible.

Very promising answers came from a conference organized in February this year by Friends of the Earth Europe, “the largest grassroots environmental network in Europe” on “The four footprints in policy and practice” [4]. The event brought together academics, politicians and experts from business with the aim of showing that it is possible to protect the climate, environment and human rights at the same time as producing goods and services. An example ? Unilever, an Anglo–Dutch multinational consumer goods company has set green targets « to grow differently », by reducing environmental footprint (for instance, by producing concentrated laundry detergents CO2 emissions have been reduced by up to 50% since 2008), enhancing livelihoods (working with smallholder farmers has implemented sustainable
agriculture practices) and improving health and well-being (by reducing the amount of sugar and salt in the products and providing healthy eating information).
Alessia Armezzani
For more information, please visit the following websites :
World Resources Forum ;
WRF 2014 ;
CER (in Spanish) ;
SRI projects in Peru ;
European WEEE ;
Conference organized by “Friends of the Earth”.

Article publié ou modifié le

5 mai 2014


[1Small and medium enterprises.

[2Non-governmental organization.

[3The concept of EPR was introduced in 1990 by Thomas Lindhqvist in a report to the Swedish Ministry of the Environment, and defined as « an environmental protection strategy to reach an environmental objective of a decreased total environmental impact of a product, by making the manufacturer of the product responsible for the entire life-cycle of the product and especially for the take-back, recycling and final disposal »

[4The four footprints are the world’s resources indicators : carbon, water, land and materials.