The OECD has set up a Global Forum on Environment (GFENV), focusing on “Sustainable Materials Management”.
The last meeting took place end of October in Belgium and provides interesting input on the theme of sustainable material management and resource efficiency in general:
OECD global forum on sustainable material management
The current socio-economic and environmental crises underlines more than ever the costs of globalisation (and makes people think about it) and probably pushes for some fundamental or structural changes in how our worldwide economies are organised.
Statements of the CEO of Philipps in the Financial Times stress this recent evolution.
‘Think global, act local’: the mainstream of leaders probablystill lough at that but the physical reality and limits of our world will show soon that this is the only way forward.
Obviously this doesn’t mean that globalisation would have no positive side: it does have a lot but it would be better to have a balanced approach of it and assess where it is really beneficial (taking especially into account the environment and the non-developped countries) and where it brings more damage than benefits.
The US ‘World Resources Institute’ has recently (April 2008) published an interesting analyses of material flows in the USA.
It provides data on trends in material flows in 4 sectors of the U.S. economy: metal and minerals, non renewable organic materials (including fossil fuels), agriculture, and forestry.
The amount of material consumed to produce a dollar of GDP declined by 31 percent over the study period (1975 to 2000) which seems a rather good result. It reflects more efficient use of materials and a certain level of dematerialisation of the US economy. Nevertheless on a per-capita basis, the trend is increasing with a rise of 23% of the per-capita consumption of material over the same period. The USA are definitively not on path to sustainability.
Another interesting figures is that per capita material consumption in the United States is more than 50 % higher than the average of 15 European Union countries.