WRF Geneva Conference on Raw Materials and Sustainable Consumption and Production

Geneva, 3 April 2019 “Anchoring Natural Resources and Raw Materials Management for Achieving Sustainable Consumption and Production” is the leading theme of WRF2019, to be held in Geneva, October 23-24, 2019. The format will have all elements of the signature multi-stakeholder “WRF flagship” dialogue: 2 days with a mix of plenary sessions and co-created workshops with conference partners, resulting in a conference summary or statement, scientific sessions, business technology and innovation trade fair and exhibition, celebration of UN Day (24 October), press conferences, active social media/youth outreach, and a lively social program.

Conference Background

raw materials and sustainable consumption and productionThere is a growing awareness that we must manage our natural resources better. Supplies of (critical) materials are not evenly distributed. Mining of primary materials and recycling of secondary materials face ever increasing economic, environmental and social challenges. Policymakers start to realize that inadequate global management of materials has adverse impacts on security of supply, technological innovation and livelihoods and quality of life of people worldwide. World Resources Forum 2017, held in Geneva, has been a wake-up call, confirming that much effort is needed to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by strengthening resource-efficiency policies worldwide. The need for drastic improvements of global governance of raw materials was highlighted, just as the need for sound environmental and social standards for the extractive industry and standards and policy frameworks for guaranteeing sustainable recycling of secondary materials.

The final report of the EC H2020 FORAM project, led by WRF on behalf of an international consortium, one year later identified important recommendations in the field of raw materials, and revealed a widely-felt need to improve international cooperation and governance, building on existing networks and initiatives. Steps to improve international cooperation will be discussed at the upcoming Raw Materials Summit in Berlin, May 2019, organized with EIT Raw Materials.

UN Environment’s International Resource Panel is working on this topic as well and has reported trends and findings to the 2019 United Nations Environment Assembly, held in Nairobi in March 2019. The Ministerial Declaration of the 2019 United Nations Environment Assembly has reaffirmed that poverty eradication, promoting sustainable patterns of consumption and production and protecting the natural resource base of economic and social development are the essential requirements for sustainable development. Ministers have expressed their determination to improve national resource management strategies with an integrated full lifecycle approach to achieve resource-efficient and low-carbon economies.

raw materials and sustainable consumption and productionThe Ministers noted that resource extraction and processing of materials, fuels, and food accounts for more than 90 per cent of global biodiversity and water stress impacts and approximately half of the global climate change emissions. They also recognized that sustainable management of metal and mineral resources contributes significantly to achieving the SDGs. The Ministers have requested UN Environment to establish a task group comprising the International Resource Panel and the One Planet Network, to provide insights on the management of natural resources and raw materials in relation to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and explore the potential offered by the different pathways towards sustainable consumption and production.

They also requested UN Environment to undertake a study based on a life-cycle approach and profiting from the work of the International Resource Panel and the One Planet Network, on the potential of current sustainable economic models for achieving sustainable consumption and production in certain sectors, such as plastics, textiles and construction, and including through value retention processes, such as direct reuse, repair, refurbishment and remanufacturing.The Ministers furthermore asked UN Environment to collect information on sustainable practices, identify knowledge gaps and options for implementation strategies, and undertake an overview of existing assessments of different governance initiatives and approaches on sustainable management of metal and mineral resources.

hotspot analysis tool for sustainable consumption and productionAchieving sustainable consumption and production is, according to the Ministers “only possible with the active support and participation of all stakeholders, in particular those who: extract and manage raw materials and natural resources, develop new materials, produce; design, manufacture, process and package goods, including food and services; sell products and services; make decisions on consumption and discard products; as well as those who manage waste and material recovery at the end of life as well as consumers with their consumption and disposal patterns.” The Ministers asked UN Environment to work on these issues together with, among others, the UNEP International Resource Panel and the One Planet Network, both partners of the World Resources Forum.

Through its unique position as informal expert platform, with solid links to governments, businesses, science and society at large, the World Resources Forum indeed contributes to global exchange of knowledge and improvement of international cooperation and will thus dedicate its upcoming conference to these issues.

Conference Theme

As a result of the ambitious outcomes of the United Nations Environment Assembly and related conferences and networks, it is imperative and urgent now to anchor sustainable development considerations into all sectoral policies and make the link to sustainable consumption and production programs, based upon life-cycle approaches. Hence, the theme for World Resources Forum 2019, to be held in Geneva, from 23-24 October 2019, is “Anchoring Natural Resources and Raw Materials Management for Achieving Sustainable Consumption and Production”.

Conference Program

To be announced shortly. The conference will have plenary sessions, high-level policy dialogue, workshops, side-events, back to back meetings and scientific sessions.

Conference Fees

Entrance fees (subject to change): Approx. CHF 650 for full conference, CHF 350 for one day, with reductions for speakers and students.

Call for Papers

The WRF Secretariat has published the Call for Papers.


This call for papers is a first step in the preparation of the scientific sessions. A scientific committee, chaired by Prof. Dr. Christian Ludwig, PSI/EPFL and Prof. Dr. Sonia Valdiva, WRF, will be established in the weeks to come.

The conference will also have plenary sessions and workshops.

The scientific sessions will be grouped into three clusters:

  • Policies and Governance
  • Technology, Industry and Environment
  • Lifestyles, Communication and Education

Download the Call for Papers WRF 2019 here.

Deadline for abstract submission is May 30, 2019*. 

For more information on the scientific sessions and WRF 2019 in general feel free to contact WRF Project Associate Fabian Ottiger at fabian.ottiger@wrforum.org or write to info@wrforum.org.