Towards an integrated sustainable resource management

The session at the WRF 2019 on October 23, 2019, organized by ESM Foundation, UNECE and EIT Raw Materials will center around the problem of supplying sufficient raw materials for a circular economy.

The circular economy – necessary for attaining the Sustainable Development Goals and fulfilling the promises given in the Paris agreement – will require increasing amounts of raw materials, amongst others technological metals, to meet basic global needs such as clean energy, mobility and free access to information.

A secure raw materials supply base is thus one of the basic conditions for sustainable development. At the same time, these raw materials have to be acquired sustainably – otherwise, sustainability achievements will be compromised. Potential bottlenecks must be considered across the entire value chain, addressing raw materials, processing capacities, semi-finished as well as finished products. Mitigation measures to ensure sustainable future supply have to be taken today. Innovative approaches are required to tackle technology and business-related issues in mining, processing and recycling, but also to deal with aspects of social responsibility and ecological impact. Reliable data and effective policy interventions can only be developed in a defined framework and require the improved collaboration of all involved actors in a systematic and transparent approach. One globally accepted framework for assessing resources on a variety of levels is the United Nations Framework Classification for Resources (UNFC) which is currently broadening its focus towards an integrated Resource Management System.

The session shall continue the discussion started at WRF 2017 on critical raw materials and sustainable development, highlight the future need for raw materials for attaining the SDGs, present recent developments towards sustainable sourcing and waste reduction, discuss possible ways forward to use UNFC as a comprehensive standard for sustainable resource management.