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Resource Efficiency - Potential and Economic Implications

The report "Resource Efficiency: Potential and Economic Implications" issued by UN Environment International Resource Panel, was commissioned in 2015 by the Group of Seven (G7) countries and released in Berlin at a workshop on resource efficiency for the Group of Twenty (G20) countries on March 16th 2017.



This report analyzes four paths that countries could take over the next three decades, ranging from business as usual to a scenario where countries adopt both ambitious climate policies and improve resource efficiency. It finds that smarter use of resources can add $2 trillion annually to the global economy.

Modelling for the report was carried out for the International Resource Panel by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and Austria’s International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). It used four scenarios: Existing Trends, Resource Efficiency (which does not include climate action), Ambitious Climate, and Efficiency Plus (which combines the Resource Efficiency and the Ambitious Climate scenarios). It looks at the opportunities for a number of key sectors, and makes these key findings:

  • Increased resource efficiency is practically attainable
  • There are substantial areas of opportunity for greater resource efficiency
  • Resource efficiency can contribute to economic growth and job creation
  • Improving resource efficiency is indispensable for meeting the costs of climate targets.


With regard to the report findings, Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment said that “this is an environmental win-win”, adding that “by making better use of our planet’s natural gifts, we will inject more money into the economy to create jobs and improve livelihoods. At the same time we will create the necessary funds to finance ambitious climate action.”

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United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment)
22 March 2017

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Type of Document

Regions & Countries