Promoting environmental efficiency

Developing countries are still on a rising curve of production and pollution. Rapid industrialization, and the construction of large, material-intensive metropolitan centres, and related transport and distribution networks, mean that these countries are replicating the resource use patterns typical of the earlier phases of development in the industrialized world. The environmental efficiency now being sought in industrialized countries is often seen as a luxury in developing countries.

Efforts to increase environmental efficiency, reduce waste and introduce recycling are growing and spreading. It is widely recognized, at least by many NGOs and the wealthiest governments in OECD, that a tenfold reduction in resource consumption in industrialized countries is a necessary long-term target if adequate resources are to be released for the needs of developing countries (von Weizäcker and others 1995, OECD 1998).

Some governments and international and business bodies have already begun to move in the direction of environmental efficiency; Austria and the Netherlands, for example, adopted this strategic goal in 1995. In Germany, the national parliament (Bundestag) holds a regular enquete on material flows in the German economy, in order to establish a basis for further policy decisions. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the United Nations Environment Programme have jointly called for a factor 20 increase in eco-efficiency. In cooperation with the newly founded Factor 10 Institute, the Ministry of Economics in Vienna is now preparing a countrywide information campaign to help small and medium-sized businesses to design eco-intelligent products. The Canadian government has established a Commissioner for the Environment and Sustainable Development who will review government policies and programmes against sustainability criteria and report annually to Parliament. (Factor 10 Club's 1997 Carnoules Statement).
1. During the past few decades, economic and technological changes have resulted in a reduction in the demand for energy and some materials per unit of production. The link between growth and its impact on the environment has also been severed. Indeed, a new economy has begun to emerge, one that is more efficient and potentially more sustainable. It is marked by people producing more goods, more jobs, and more income while using less energy and resources for every unit of production (Factor 10 Club's 1997 Carnoules Statement).
Type Classification:
E: Emanations of other strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 15: Life on Land