This note draws on the findings of the United Nations’ expert panel on natural resources – the International Resource Panel (IRP) – to highlight some key policy-relevant messages on how sustainable management of natural resources can contribute to global efforts to combat climate change.

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      The way the global economy manages natural resources deeply influences the Earth’s climate. How we extract these resources and how much we make use of them essentially determines the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG). How we dispose of the resulting wastes increasingly conditions the ability of nature’s sinks such as soils, forests and oceans to absorb them. Whether we seek to reduce GHG releases by means of mitigation approaches, or we try to secure the sustainability of our food, water, energy and livelihoods through adaptation measures, appropriate management of natural resources lies at the centre of virtually all viable solutions to climate change.

      A very large part of global energy use (and therefore GHG emissions) is tied directly to the acquisition, processing, transport, conversion, use and disposal of resources. And very significant savings in both energy and emissions are possible at each of these stages in the resource management chain.

      Raising resource productivity through improved efficiency and reducing resource waste through measures such as reuse, recycling and remanufacturing can greatly lower both resource consumption and GHG emissions. Such measures also confer additional, highly desirable social benefits such as more equitable access to resources and invaluable environmental gains such as reduced pollution.

      Decoupling economic growth and human wellbeing from resource use has, therefore, to be an integral part and prime concern of climate policy.

      This note draws on the findings of the United Nations’ expert panel on natural resources – the International Resource Panel (IRP) – to highlight some key policy-relevant messages on how sustainable management of natural resources can contribute to global efforts to combat climate change.

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