About the book
During the last 50 years the world has witnessed strong economic growth and fast urbanization rates which has lifted millions of people out of poverty. However, this development has been coupled with increasing use of resources and environmental degradation. It is obvious that the increased use of resources is strongly coupled to environmental impacts. Partly this is because of the linear way resources are used. The process leads to environmental impacts all the way and ends with different kinds of waste.
Creating decent living conditions for all people and at the same time decouple economic growth from the increasing use of virgin resources and environmental impacts will be the major challenge in this millennium. This is also the essence of the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. There are many approaches suggested for solving these problems. One is to change consumption behaviour from material products to services. Another solution is to find technological solutions to create more closed loops for materials and use fewer virgin resources. All solutions will require more of the central resource, namely energy, and the hope is that energy will be obtained from clean renewable sources. A central question is if this complex equation has solutions or if there are barriers for the development which are unforeseen today. Another important question is how long a transition to a more sustainable use of resources will take.
Resource efficiency thus involves using the Earth's limited virgin resources in a sustainable manner while at the same time creating liveable cities and minimising impacts on the environment. It allows us to create more with less and to deliver greater value with less input. An increasing consumption of virgin resources will inevitable create international conflicts as every nation will defend its own interests.
The new situation for resource use is that material and product flows have become more and more globalized which make them difficult to control.
The central aim of this book is to view resource efficiency from a more complex perspective looking at several resources and the causal links between them in order to point out more new pathways towards a more sustainable use of resources.