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UN calls for urgent intervention as natural resource use escalates

The United Nations (UN) has stressed that the rapid growth in the extraction of natural resources is the chief culprit in climate change and biodiversity loss.

In a report released this week at the UN Environment Assembly, the keynotes highlight that this challenge will only worsen unless the world urgently undertakes a systemic reform of resource use.

The Global Resources Outlook 2019, prepared by the International Resource Panel, examines the trends in natural resources and their corresponding consumption patterns since the 1970s to support policymakers in strategic decision-making and transitioning to a sustainable economy.

Over the past five decades, the population has doubled and global domestic product has increased four times. The report finds that, in the same period, annual global extraction of materials grew from 27 billion tonnes to 92 billion tonnes (by 2017). This will double again by 2060 on current trends.

According to the report, “the extraction and processing of materials, fuels and food make up about half of total global greenhouse gas emissions and more than 90 per cent of biodiversity loss and water stress”. By 2010, land-use changes had caused a loss of global species of approximately 11 per cent.

“The Global Resources Outlook shows that we are ploughing through this planet’s finite resources as if there is no tomorrow, causing climate change and biodiversity loss along the way,” said Joyce Msuya, Acting Executive Director of UN Environment. “Frankly, there will be no tomorrow for many people unless we stop.”

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