European Commission adopts SERI suggestion on resource use indicators

On Tuesday, 20th of September, the European Commission presented its new “Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe”. It is the detailed EU policy implementation plan in the area of resource efficiency for the coming years. In this document the EU adopts the suggestion of SERI and Friends of the Earth (FoE) to monitor European progress towards resource efficiency with 4 indicators, representing the key categories of our natural resource use: materials, water, land area and greenhouse gas emissions.

For the past 3 years, SERI has been cooperating with Friends of the Earth on measuring Europe’s resource use. In this context, SERI developed a suggestion for a set of indicators to properly measure, which amounts of resources Europe uses both within its borders and in other parts of the world (see the report for FoE here – and the corresponding scientific publication here).

This indicator set is based on earlier approaches such as Environmental Space, MIPS (Material Input per Service), TMR (Total Material Requirement) and so-called “Footprint” indicators and comprises indicators, which either already exist or are currently being developed.

In its new “Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe”, the European Commission adopts SERI’s suggestion for a set of indicators, which cover our use of materials, water, land area and the emissions of greenhouse gases.

To quote from the document (page 20/21): “The Commission proposes using, as a provisional lead indicator, resource productivity, measured by the ratio of GDP to Domestic Material Consumption (expressed in Euro/tonne). A higher ratio would indicate better performance, with growth consuming relatively fewer resources. This, however, only captures the material resources aspects and does not deal with other resources or the potential shift of burden across countries. Because this provisional lead indicator only gives a partial picture, it should be complemented by a ‘dashboard’ of indicators on water, land, materials and carbon and indicators that measure environmental impacts and our natural capital or ecosystems as well as seeking to take into account the global aspects of EU consumption.”

This marks a big success for our work in the area of indicator development and properly measuring our natural resource use. This also allows us to further push the EU debate towards achieving an absolute reduction of our resource use and its global environmental and social impacts.

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