The world is consuming too much energy and materials to sustain itself and the global community must summon the political will to tackle a whole raft of challenges, from mineral extraction to waste recycling to the more than 200 toxic chemicals entering the blood of foetuses, the head of a United Nations commission warned today.
The central question is “how to achieve green and equitable growth and development for a growing population through better management of materials,” UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) Chairman Luis Alberto Ferraté Felice told a news conference in New York “More specifically, how can we de-couple development from resource use?”
The Commission is currently holding its 18th session amid growing concerns that present consumer-oriented trends have potentially damaging effects on ecosystems, climate, food and water supplies and human health. It will review ways to assist countries come up with environmentally-friendly technologies and help corporations to develop greener business models, and consumers to adopt lifestyles that are more sustainable.
Mr. Ferraté, who is Guatemala’s Environment and Natural Resources Minister, said the CSD had started a new two-year cycle reviewing five major themes – mining, chemicals, transport, a 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production, and waste management.
“These five themes come together to form what we call the ‘materials cycle’ that starts with the excavation of minerals and other natural resources to their transformation into goods and services to their final processing and recycling as wastes,” he added.
“Quite simply, the world is consuming too much energy and materials,” he said, noting that while over-consumption occurs largely in the developed world and parts of the emerging and developing worlds, over 1 billion people suffer from under-consumption, including of basic necessities such as food, water, and shelter.
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