“Doing what we been doing for the last 50 years is no longer an option.” That’s how Magda Stoczkiewicz, director of Friends of the Earth Europe, expressed the urgency of changing our relationship with the Earth’s resources at a conference in Brussels today. The conference – Putting resource efficiency back on the agenda – was held to discuss the opportunities for a stronger role of resource efficiency in Europe, and came in the wake of announced intentions to scrap Europe’s proposed waste management and resource efficiency legislation, known as the Circular Economy Package.
“We can do much better!” urged Janez Potočnik former European Environment Commissioner, now Co-Chair of UNEPs International Resources Panel, as he set out the road to a more resource efficient Europe. If the environmental benefits are not enough to convince policymakers to act, he stressed the wide range of economic and political arguments supporting the case for strong legislation. Other speakers highlighted how Europe’s demand for resources is linked to environmental damage and social injustices – from biodiversity loss, toxic pollution to the destruction of fertile land and the seas and water pollution.
“Europe’s future competitiveness lies in resource efficiency,” said DG Environment’s director-general Karl Falkenberg. “We have developed recycling successes. For example, a company in Belgium is now the second biggest source of rare earth materials in the world after China. These are not green dreams, but a growing green reality in the EU.” Expanding on the social and economic benefits of resource efficiency, Magda Stoczkiewicz argued that better use of resources can not only contribute to the urgently needed reduction of resource use in Europe, but also helps to save money and create jobs. In fact, according to the European Commission’s own research, implementing the plans for resource efficiency could help to create 526,000 jobs as well as reduce the pressure to our global resource base, on which we depend on for our wellbeing and economy.
The conference examined how resource efficiency could achieve a stronger role in European policies. It included discussions on the hotly debated Circular Economy Package, the upcoming land as a resource communication and the opportunities to green the Europe 2020 strategy.
Presentations from the speakers are available on the right of this page.