Resource Use and Resource Efficiency in Central and Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States

This study provides a comparative assessment of material consumption and material productivity in 30 selected countries covering Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and the Newly Independent States (NIS) in the Caucasus and Central Asia between 1995 and 2008. It was also commissioned by UNIDO. To facilitate comparison, the region was divided into three geographical groups: New EU Member States (NMS), South East Europe (SEE) and Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA).

The results of the study reflect the extremely diverse development of the 30 countries. Many of them have gone through processes of economic transition and market liberalisation, with diverging effects on their use of natural resources. To varying degrees, the collapse of Communism and the transition towards market economies was initially (between 1989 and 1995) accompanied by high rates of inflation, a marked decline in output (on average by 40%), a stagnation in material extraction and a decline in resource consumption until the year 2000. During the first half of the 1990s, this development was exacerbated by conflicts in SEE and the Caucasus and extended in some parts of EECCA by the Russian currency crisis in 1997/98. These initial years of economic decline were swiftly followed by a period of strong economic growth, which was also reflected in a rise of resource use and resource efficiency.

While the economies of the new EU-members recovered faster and earlier, the process took longer and the falls were even deeper in most of the South East European and EECCA countries. The average per capita consumption of the 30 countries increased by 25% between 1995 and 2008, from 9.8 to 12.2 tonnes. This is above the global average of 10.4 tonnes but still below EU-15 average of 18.6 tonnes per capita in 2008.

Material consumption decoupled relatively from economic growth during the whole period under consideration in the 30 countries. Thus, material productivity rose continuously by an average 42% between 1995 and 2008. This general improvement in resource efficiency across the region partly reflects the economic restructuring that has taken place since the early 1990s and is partly due to increased production efficiency in some sectors.

The report “Resource use and resource efficiency in Central and Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States” is available here.

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