‘Resources for our Future’: Key issues and best practices in Resource Efficiency

November 14th 2013 - 09:30

Natural resources, including minerals, water, energy and arable land, are the basis of
human society. Throughout the 20th century, the growing population has led to an increase in the use of fossil fuels by a factor of 12, and to the extraction of 34 times more material resources. As a consequence, Earth’s climate is changing, fish stocks and forests are shrinking, the prices of energy resources and critical materials are rising, and species are becoming extinct. If the population grows as expected and the mean per capita consumption doubles by the year 2050, it is most probable that humanity will experience the limits to growth.

Improving resource efficiency is about improving the quality of life while limiting environmental degradation by using resources more wisely and changing patterns of production and consumption. The main ambition is to enable prosperity for a growing population without exceeding planetary limits. In order to support economic growth with
fewer resources we need to improve the efficiency of resource use, in terms of the economic value per unit of resources used. This is exactly what has been achieved in recent years: the world economy in 2005 extracted some 30% fewer resources to produce € 1 of GDP than it did in 1980. In absolute terms, however, global resource extraction is still rising. Population growth and economic growth have obviously outweighed the improvements in resource efficiency.

The report can be downloaded using the button on the right.
You can order a hard copy of the report at Amsterdam University Press.

Michel Rademaker is the deputy Director of HCSS. He has fifteen years of hands-on experience as an officer in The Royal Netherlands Army, where he held various military operational and staff posts and also served a term in former Yugoslavia. He has a masters degree obtained at the University of Tilburg. After leaving the armed forces, Mr. Rademaker went on to work at the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) as a project and program manager and senior policy advisor on security topics for ten years. Eg. as NATO RTO project leader, he and his team developed serious gaming assessment methods and conducted several assessments of security technologies, and worked on numerous strategic security topics.