A Green Economy, in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, is one of the two central themes of Rio+20. It underlines that it is in the interests of all nations - developed and developing and state or market-led - to begin reducing humanity's planetary impact in ways that reflect national circumstances. This summary report by UNEP's International Resource Panel is an important part of this overall discourse and direction. It brings empirical evidence to bear on the levels of natural resources being consumed by humanity and the likely consumption levels if past trends are mirrored into the future. Indeed it suggests that such unsustainable levels of consumption could triple resource use by 2050 and it brings forward the powerful and urgent concept of 'decoupling' as a key action in order to catalyze a dramatically different path.
Decoupling at its simplest is reducing the amount of resources such as water or fossil fuels used to produce economic growth and delinking economic development from environmental deterioration. For it is clear in a world of nearly seven billion people, climbing to around nine billion in 40 years time that growth is needed to lift people out of poverty and to generate employment for the soon to be two billion either unemployed or underemployed.
This summary report focuses on material resources, namely fossil fuels, minerals, metals and biomass and will be complemented by parallel reports on land, soil, water, cities and technologies to mitigate GHG Emissions.