Rationalizing use of non-renewable resources Improving exhaustible resource productivity
UNESCO's programme includes the following: applying modern technologies to the use of non-renewable resources and provide training in earth sciences.
It is necessary to work toward halving the present global non-renewable material flows, including minerals, fresh water and non-renewable energy carriers. A political commitment to a tenfold increase in the average resource productivity of the presently industrialized countries is a prerequisite for meeting the goal of long-term global sustainability. The technical potential for such a goal over 50 years is enormous. Deliberate actions by governments and other actors are needed to provide the right incentives for change.
Resource efficiencies on their own cannot be called sustainable because they cannot be sustained indefinitely. This is partly because each ensuing step towards greater efficiency becomes more expensive and thus more difficult to implement, and partly because despite all energy improvements, billions of tonnes of raw materials are still turned into emissions and unrecoverable wastes. This amount is not being reduced. Furthermore, much of the growth depends on exports to the rest of the world, particularly the developing world who are copying high consumption practices. The earth's carrying capacity will be undermined even if only the currently rich industrial countries achieve such a high level of resource consumption as some of their individual members have attained.
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