The world is experiencing an unprecedented moment in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. For the International Resource Panel (IRP) it is also a moment to reflect. The Report “Building Resilient Societies after the COVID-19 pandemic” provides policy recommendations extracted from IRP research over the past 10 years to drive a resource smart recovery, generating socio-economic value while safeguarding the environment.
The sustainable management of natural resources, including the smarter use of materials (such as biomass, fossil fuels, metal ores and non-metallic minerals) has many benefits: It reduces the rate at which natural resources are depleted. It generates opportunities including reduced material supply dependencies and economic diversification towards circular economy business models and jobs. Lower levels of inputs help reduce waste flows and emissions and reduce costs for producers and consumers. Smarter use of resources also limits the environmental impacts that occur with resource extraction in agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining and quarrying.
Furthermore, it stimulates innovation, the creation of new industries, and furthers economic competitiveness. This allows countries with developed infrastructure to leapfrog into schemes of absolute decoupling (increased economic growth and well-being with less natural resource use and environmental impacts).
Many global leaders have announced stimulus packages. Biodiversity loss, climate action, and sustainable resource management should be prioritized in the recovery phase. Decisions made by global leaders on deploying these funds will shape our economies and societies for decades to come. Adopting ‘‘green’’ stimulus packages with elements of resource efficiency can lead to cost savings and stimulate economic growth and are the cornerstones of crisis prevention and resilience.
As expressed by Inger Andersen, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), “strong and global stewardship of nature and biodiversity; and a clear commitment to “building back better”, creating green jobs and facilitating the transition to a carbon neutral future”, are key elements for building resilient societies after the COVID-19 pandemic. The Sustainable Development Goals (Agenda 2030) and the Paris Agreement on climate change remain our roadmap.
This paper distills relevant policy recommendations and examples from previous IRP reports, with an aim to help governments, industry, and the society to rethink and reshape the way we generate wealth, the way we move and live and the way we eat to restore our economies and build resilient societies.
Source: Resource Panel