Priority products and materials: assessing the environmental impacts of consumption and production
"Smart market mechanisms, more intelligent fiscal policies and creative policy-making are among the options for internalizing the costs of unsustainable patterns. Some tough choices are signalled in this report, but it may prove even more challenging for everyone if the current paths continue into the coming decades."
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)
This report prepared by the International Resource Panel assesses best available science on the environmental and resource impacts of production and consumption.
The assessment report identifies priorities amongst global consumption activities, industrial sectors and materials from primary industries in terms of their environmental impacts and their resource use. This can play a role in directing environmental and resource policy to those areas that really matter.
Environmental impacts occur at all stages in the life cycles of products and materials. They are often connected to land use, combustion of fuels, industrial processes, the dispersive use of materials (e.g., fertilizers), or resource extraction (including biomass and minerals). The report regards also the rapidly increasing international trade and economic activities leading to the translocation of environmental impacts of consumption to other countries.
There is a significant opportunity to improve the basis for decision-making by assessing best available scientific information from a global perspective in order to direct attention of decision-makers to the big problems first, while avoiding burden shifting in time, space and between environmental impacts. The work programme of the Working Group on the Environmental Impacts of Products and Materials complements other work in the Resource Panel on decoupling, biofuels, metals flows, and water efficiency.
Press release - English