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UNEP Releases Report on Decoupling Resource Use and Economic Growth

12 May 2011: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) International Resource Panel has released a report titled “Decoupling natural resource use and environmental impacts from economic growth.” The report was released on the sidelines of the 19th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD 19), which convened from 2-12 May 2011, in New York, US.

The report analyzes the concept of improving the rate of resource productivity faster than the economic growth rate, also known as "decoupling." The report stresses the need for massive investment in technological, financial and social innovation, to freeze per capita consumption in wealthy countries and assist developing countries to identify a sustainable path. The report underscores that the world is running out of cheap and high quality sources of oil, copper and gold, and that these require rising volumes of fossil fuels and freshwater to produce.

According to the report, the trend towards urbanization provide assistance in decoupling, noting that cities allow for economies of scale and more efficient service provision, including water delivery, housing, waste management and recycling, energy use and transportation.

The report also details progress in four countries where government policy supports decoupling, namely Germany, Japan, South Africa and China. [UNEP Press Release] [Publication: Decoupling Natural Resource Use and Environmental Impacts from Economic Growth]