EMS helps cut resource use

17th May 2012


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Environment management systems are crucial to more sustainable production and consumption practices, according to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)

In a new report examining the actions taken by companies and policymakers to improve resource use, UNEP describes environmental management standards, such as ISO 14001, as “vital tools”, saying that they provide practical frameworks to help reduce environmental impacts while generating cost savings.

The report, which consists of 56 best-practice case studies featuring Nestlé and Sainsbury’s, comes ahead of the Rio+20 summit in June, where improving resource efficiency will feature highly.

“Realising a low-carbon, resource-efficient and employment-generating green economy is the challenge for world leaders when they meet in Rio,” said Achim Steiner, UNEP executive director. “This report underlines that governments are not starting from zero. Rio+20 offers the opportunity to accelerate and scale up these policies and projects.”

Publication of the UNEP report comes as a new study from the Royal Society, entitled People and planet, warns that consumption levels between developed and developing nations must be rebalanced, and population levels stabilised.

“The world now has a very clear choice. We can choose to address the twin issues of population and consumption. We can choose to rebalance the use of resources to a more egalitarian pattern of consumption, to reframe our economic values to truly reflect what our consumption means for our planet and to help individuals around the world to make informed and free reproductive choices. Or we can choose to do nothing and to drift into a downward vortex of economic, sociopolitical and environmental ills, leading to a more unequal and inhospitable future,” said Sir John Sulston, fellow of the Royal Society.

At the same time, Re|Source 2012, a new initiative created by the University of Oxford and the Rothschild Foundation, has been launched. It calls on global businesses and the finance community to take the lead in solving resource scarcity as population growth and economic development put greater strains on the planet’s resources.

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