Commission sets out the path to resource-efficient growth

21 Sep 2011 10:16 AM

Yesterday the European Commission set out a 'roadmap' aimed at transforming Europe's economy into a sustainable one by 2050. The Roadmap to a resource-efficient Europe outlines how we can achieve the resource efficient growth which is essential for our future wellbeing and prosperity. The roadmap identifies the economic sectors that consume the most resources, and suggests tools and indicators to help guide action in Europe and internationally. It is an agenda for competitiveness and growth based on using fewer resources when we produce and consume goods and creating business and job opportunities from activities such as recycling, better product design, materials substitution and eco-engineering.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "Green growth is the only sustainable future – for Europe and the world. Industry and environment need to work hand in hand – in the long term our interests are the same."

Better resource use in an environment under strain

Rising demand around the globe is increasing pressure on the environment, and creating greater competition for resources. Key natural resources such as raw materials, metals, energy, biodiversity and water have been used to fuel economic growth as though supplies were inexhaustible. This is not sustainable in the long term. Today's roadmap puts forward the means by which we can continue to achieve growth in a sustainable way.

Measures are set out aimed at transforming production and consumption, with incentives for investors to promote green innovation, and a greater role for eco-design, eco-labelling, and greener spending by public bodies. Governments are invited to shift taxation away from labour towards pollution and resources, and to provide fresh incentives to push consumers towards resource-efficient products. The roadmap also recommends adapting prices to reflect the real costs of resource use, especially on environment and health.

The roadmap aims to address resource inefficiency in the sectors that are responsible for the greatest share of environmental impacts – namely food, buildings and mobility, whose combined effects account for 70-80 % of all environmental impacts.

The importance of managing the natural resources that underpin our economy more efficiently is also stressed. Pressures on resources like biodiversity, soil and climate are constantly increasing, and a failure to meet the existing goals could spell disaster in the longer term.

Tackling resource efficiency at all policy levels

The roadmap recommends an integrated approach across many policy areas at European and Member States levels and focusing on the resources under most pressure The instruments employed will include legislation, market-based instruments, refocusing of funding instruments and promotion of sustainable production and consumption. Clear targets and indicators providing predictability and transparency for all will be developed by 2013, through a participative process involving policy makers, experts, NGOs, business and consumers.


The Europe 2020 Flagship initiative on resource-efficiency called for a Roadmap to define medium and long-term objectives on resource efficiency and means for achieving them. This Roadmap builds on and complements other initiatives under the flagship, such as the Roadmap for a low-carbon economy the White paper on transport adopted in spring 2011 and the Energy Roadmap expected for later this year. The Resource Efficiency Roadmap also builds upon the 2005 Thematic Strategy on the sustainable use of natural resources and the EU's sustainable development strategy.

Next Steps

The various actions and measures indicated in the roadmap will now be taken forward. The Commission will prepare appropriate policy and legislative proposals to implement it. Member States will also need to act at their level, bringing new efficiency measures to business and consumers.

For more information on Resource efficiency and find the Roadmap please see:



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Joe Hennon (+32 2 295 35 93)

Monica Westeren (+32 2 299 18 30)