Natural Resources

Towards a sustainable use of natural resources
Stichting Natuur en Milieu, January 2001 H.Muilerman, H.Blonk.

Contents 1 2 3 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 4 4.1 4.2 5 6 7 8 Aim of the report Depletion of natural resources Sustainability of natural resource use Environmental impacts of natural resource use Ecological limits Social and economic sustainability: fair shares The challenge facing the Western world Indicators of the pressures on reserves of natural resources Type of indicators Consumption indicators for the Western world – the Netherlands as example Trends in natural resource use – the Netherlands as example Reduction targets and strategies Policy requirements References

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Aim of the report

The aim of this report is to demonstrate the need to reduce the consumption of natural resources (environmental impacts) in the economy and provide the initial impetus for a new policy to keep the use of natural resources within sustainable limits. (By ‘ natural resources’we mean the global reserves of natural resources and raw materials by used human beings.) Reduction of the use of natural resources in production and consumption is often referred to as ‘ dematerialization’ . 2 Depletion of natural resources

Three kinds of reserves of natural resources can be identified (Reijnders 1999, Chapman 1983): continuous resources such as sunlight and wind, the use of which does not lead to a reduction in their size; renewable resources, such as wood and crops that can be harvested – but not faster than their rate of replenishment; and non-renewable resources such as fossil fuels and minerals. The last are created by very slow geological processes, so slow in human terms that their use diminishes the available stocks. Resources such as clean water, fertile soils and biodiversity, given the time required for their recovery, can also be considered to be non-renewable. The Club of Rome first drew attention to the depletion of resources at the beginning of the 1970s. At.