Resource Efficiency for Sustainable Development: Key Messages for the G20

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September 2018
United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment), International Resource Panel (IRP)

Resource efficiency is a key approach to decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation while enhancing human well-being. It stimulates innovation, the creation of new industries, and boosts economic competitiveness. Ultimately, it is good not only for the environment but also for the economy. 

Resource efficiency is both a requirement and an opportunity for sustained economic prosperity in G20 countries -  a dynamic group of leading economies with a diverse set of visions and approaches for sustainable development, and member states all over the world. The collective impact of this group could drive large-scale transformation in a direction that can lead us to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

This report shows that 60 to 80 per cent improvements in energy and water efficiency are technically possible and commercially viable in construction, agriculture, food, industry, transport and other sectors in G20 countries. It shows that, in 70 per cent of cases, the required resource efficient investment would offer a rate of return greater than 10 per cent per year and that an investment of USD 900 billion could potentially generate 9 million to 25 million jobs. 

It also spotlights good practices, strategies and opportunities for improvement in resource efficiency in low, middle and high-income countries, including short sections on: 

  • Promoting Multistakeholder Action on Resource Efficiency in Argentina
  • Transit Oriented Development in Brazil and Canada
  • Policy Planning to Promote Resource Efficiency in China
  • Sustainable Public Procurement as a driver of Resource Efficiency in India
  • Reducing waste through Industrial Symbiosis in Japan
  • Improvement of Resource Efficiency through a Housing Finance Scheme in Mexico
  • Increasing water efficiency while protecting the poor in South Africa