Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Global Think Tank To Look At Risks Of Biofuels & Metal Recycling

Nov 9: Assessing the environmental risks of biofuel production and metal recycling are two of the issues likely to top the agenda of a newly formed global think tank on resource efficiency. Launched at the World Science Forum being held in Budapest, Hungary, the new International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management (IPSRM) will provide scientific assessments and expert advice on the use intensity, the security of supplies and the environmental impacts of selected products and services on a global level.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which established the panel said, "Climate change rightly tops the environmental agenda at the moment, but the world faces more inconvenient truths that must be addressed. Economic growth in our modern times cannot be achieved with old consumption and production patterns -- a point brought into sharp relief by our new Global Environment Outlook-4 [See WIMS 10/26/07] which shows that collectively humans are over-utilizing the Earth's nature-based resources at a rate that is outstripping nature's ability to renew and replenish them. We need to provide a boost to resource-efficient growth and innovation. We need to break the links between economic growth and environmental degradation, and finding ways to achieve this 'decoupling' is what the new resource panel is all about."

Established by UNEP, with the support of a wide range of governments, the European Commission and representatives from civil society, the new scientific panel is part of an international partnership on resource management. It will look at the impacts on resources and materials used in all phases of their life cycle. The new IPSRM is expected to provide hard scientific and empirical assessments, written in a clear language about complex issues and reports which can be read by those who can take action. The Panel is expected to assess the situation at the global level and advise which priority issues to address, for instance metal recycling (should we 'mine or recycle', and what are the environmental risks); or the complex issue of bio-based products (are we tackling climate change, or are we 'burning our food' as some say).

The Panel is supported by a Secretariat, hosted by the Sustainable Consumption and Production Branch of UNEP's Division of Technology, Industry and Economics. To date, interest has been received from some twenty countries and support has been pledged by the governments of Canada, China, Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Tanzania and the European Commission. Prominent scientists will be invited to join the Panel as members. Candidatures for Panel membership are currently open. Government representatives are invited to join the Board which will help shape the Panel's strategy.

Access a release from UNEP with links to additional information (click here). Access the IPSRM website for additional information (click here). [*All]