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Key Strategies to Achieve the SDGs and Consequences for Monitoring Resource Use

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Managing Water, Soil and Waste Resources to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals

Abstract

The chapter introduces a systems perspective on the physical economy and its interactions with the environment. Indicators on the use of materials, land, water, and GHG emissions (the “Four Footprints”) play a central role in linking human activities with environmental impacts. A basic goal of sustainable development is to foster social progress within environmental limits, and to enhance the safety of humans while reducing their dependence from constraints. Both intentions are reflected in existing resource policies of countries, where both supply security and the decoupling of welfare and social progress from natural resource use are central goals. The chapter summarises the state-of-the-art of the application of accounting methods and data provision for national material flow derived indicators, including the material footprints, as well as land and water footprints. In a systematic manner, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are discussed with regard to their relation to resource use, and it is argued that the information on resource use, in particular the four footprints (including carbon footprint), across levels will be necessary for a consistent implementation of the SDGs. Improving the knowledge base on global resource use will require further institutional development also on the international level. Towards this end, options are outlined comprising the build-up of regular monitoring, a global resource data base, the development of an international competence centre, and an international programme for global sustainable resource management.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    See e.g., http://www.unwater.org/kwip.

  2. 2.

    For instance, Rockström et al. (2009) suggested that global cropland could be expanded sustainably by 400 Mha without reaching the planetary boundaries, which was critized by UNEP (2014b) pointing to the associated loss of biodiversity which should be avoided. The example shows that defining sustainability thresholds of resource use is still a challenge.

  3. 3.

    The reader will note that sufficiency in terms of resource consumption is NOT tantamount to sufficiency in terms of final consumption of goods and services, as the latter may be associated with different amounts and impacts of life-cycle-wide resource requirements.

  4. 4.

    An example for benchmarking of countries with regard to their resource productivity is the European Resource Efficiency Scoreboard: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/europe-2020-indicators/resource-efficient-europe.

  5. 5.

    http://www.greengrowthknowledge.org.

  6. 6.

    http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/environmental-data-centre-on-natural-resources.

  7. 7.

    http://www.unep.org/greeneconomy/.

  8. 8.

    http://www.oecd.org/env/towards-green-growth-9789264111318-en.htm.

  9. 9.

    http://gsnetworks.org.

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Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank the editors and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments, and UNU-FLORES for supporting the writing.

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Correspondence to Stefan Bringezu .

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Bringezu, S. (2018). Key Strategies to Achieve the SDGs and Consequences for Monitoring Resource Use. In: Hülsmann, S., Ardakanian, R. (eds) Managing Water, Soil and Waste Resources to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-75163-4_2

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