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Europe’s resource reduction plan doesn’t measure up

22 September 2011
by foeeurope -- last modified 22 September 2011

A plan unveiled on 20 September to tackle Europe’s dependency on imported resources does not go far enough to end the region’s over-consumption of the world’s water, land and other materials.


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The Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe acknowledges that major increases in Europe's resource efficiency are needed to compensate for growing competition for the world's resources. However, it is vague about how this transformation is going to happen, leaving most of the substance for future policy processes.

Ariadna Rodrigo, resource use campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, said: "Europe's resource consumption is amongst the highest in the world. Our dependence on imports from the rest of the world is expensive for companies and consumers and is harming the environment and communities in the global south. Europe urgently needs to cut out waste and focus on quality of life, not excessive consumption – today's roadmap doesn't measure up to the task at hand."

Friends of the Earth Europe is pushing for Europe to measure the entirety of its global land, water, carbon and material footprints, and then reduce them. The European Commission's plan to develop indicators for these four areas is welcomed, but there must be no further delay in deciding precise indicators.

Ariadna Rodrigo continued: "Measuring Europe's land, water, carbon and material use is an essential step towards greater resource efficiency, and a lighter environmental footprint. European officials should focus on incorporating resource use measurement across European policies, rather than promoting the limited resource productivity indicator."

The 'resource productivity indicator' is the central element for the measurement of Europe's resource use in the current Roadmap. This indicator only considers the weight of material resources – ignoring land, water and carbon footprints and their subsequent social and environmental impacts.

The Roadmap contains some welcome commitments that Friends of the Earth Europe now wants to see implemented:

- Europe needs to "move towards an economy based on re-use and recycling, with residual waste close to zero", and focus funding on recycling and other approaches which minimise waste;

- Further measures on resource use of products, including on the broader environmental footprint of products, though these proposals are currently vague.

Friends of the Earth Europe campaigns for sustainable and just societies and for the protection of the environment, unites 30 national organisations with thousands of local groups and is part of the world's largest grassroots environmental network, Friends of the Earth International.

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