How can we conserve our natural resources

sustainabilityCareful use of natural resources

Nine billion people are expected to live on earth in 2050 - and live off the earth. This means that the earth offers soil such as arable land, water, forest, raw materials such as metals, energy, oil, gas and much more that people need for life and prosperity. And they are using way too much because they are just wasting their resources. A good example for Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program, is the waste of land that we actually urgently need for the production of food:

"We waste or lose nearly a third or more of the food we produce each year. That is the equivalent of 1.4 billion hectares of agricultural land that we use each year to produce something that is never consumed becomes."

And no nation in the world can afford such a thing nowadays. Because there is similar waste, for example, with metals and rare earths that are processed in cell phones and whose occurrence on earth is limited. In the EU alone, 100 million cell phones are withdrawn from circulation every year and the ingredients are never seen again, warns Achim Steiner:

"The amazing thing is that in this mobile phone electronics junk dump we accept a loss of 2.5 million tons of gold every year, 25 tons of silver, one ton of palladium and 900 tons of copper."

Increased use of raw materials

Worldwide, the use of raw materials has doubled over the past 30 years. And if we continue like this, by the middle of the century we will theoretically use up three times what the earth can offer us in terms of natural resources, warns Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks. Germany is already relatively far in terms of resource efficiency. Compared to 1994, 14 percent fewer raw materials are used in production. And the development of appropriate technologies, which then also contribute to climate and environmental protection, can be economically worthwhile, says the German Environment Minister:

"With around 1.5 million employees, the environmental industry has become one of the biggest job engines. The European Commission confirms the same thing. It estimates that measures to increase resource efficiency in Europe can create two million new jobs and at the same time reduce gross domestic product by one Percent can be increased. "

Material costs continue to skyrocket

In addition, around 45 percent of the costs in the manufacturing industry are material costs, while personnel costs only account for around 20 percent. But material costs continue to skyrocket because most raw materials are becoming increasingly scarce, the best example: the high-tech metal neodymium, which is used, for example, in the construction of wind turbines and in laptops and whose price is around 28 in just seven years. has increased times. Matthias Machnig, State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Economics:

"I believe that the competitiveness of large industrialized countries in the next few years and decades will depend on how far they manage to achieve efficiency."

And since the per capita consumption of raw materials in industrialized countries is currently around four times higher than in developing countries, these countries also have a special responsibility. At the event on resource efficiency, which begins today in Berlin, the world's leading economies will advise. The German government wants to propose an alliance for resource efficiency as part of the G7 presidency, says Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks:

"How do we create the right framework conditions, where are resource-efficient innovations and how do we get them onto the market quickly."

The aim for the G7 summit in June is to develop an initial joint idea of ​​how resource efficiency can be increased worldwide. The findings should also flow into the UN climate conference in Paris in December.