European Resources Forum urges Commission to continue resource efficiency and circular economy programs

ERFBerlin, 11 november 2014 “The European Resources Forum urges the European governments, the European Parliament and the European Commission to continue with the “Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe” and with the initiatives and actions linked to it, especially with the “Circular Economy Package”. The fear that resource efficiency endangers the economy is wrong. The opposite is true: a resource efficient Europe is an opportunity for economic growth and job creation.”

The participants of the European Resources Forum adopted this Declaration at the end of two days of discussions among politicians, scientists, government and business leaders, and NGO’s. Topics discussed included targets and responsiblities for sustainable resource use, linkages between resources and energy policies, sustainable development goals and post 2015 process, the role of the financial system, and business experiences.

Moderator Harry Lehmann (Federal Environment Agency, Germany) closed the conference with a personal statement, saying “When looking back I can only say: Wow! How much have we achieved in the last years! And wow! So much to do in the next years! And wow! How mad can politicians be!”There was severe criticism in the conference about thoughts of the new European Commission to dismantle some of the planned resource efficiency programs. Member of the European Parliament Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy said that not only green parties and NGO’s would be against it, but also many industry partners, since the new programs can save 870 billions of Euros per year. “I will not let this happen”, he said, just before leaving the conference.

Earlier Timo Makela, Director of the International Affairs and LIFE unit of the European Commission, commenting on the UN Sustainable Development Goals had stated that “we should not dream that we have won the sustainability battle. The SDG process is not yet on the radar screen of the European political leaders. It is considered UN stuff, not us, even in the new Commission.” He advocated a shift to circular “no waste’ economies, that create jobs in the repair, remanufacture and design sector, “services that our society wants but have become too expensive”.

The Hungarian Ambassador to the United Nations, Csaba Korosi, called attention to the complicated global context of a long term power struggle about “who will rule the world in 2030” and developing countries complaining about “pulling up the ladder”: not allowing them to grow like the developed countries have grown. Resource efficiency is an important element of the Sustainable Development Goals, and Sustainable Consumption and Production is at the core. He said that apart from the conventional approaches to sustainable development social contracts were needed “between stakeholders and between generations”. Europe should lead in standard setting and technology cooperation, the Ambassador said in a session moderated by WRF’s Managing Director Bas de Leeuw.

Xaver at ERF 14WRF President Xaver Edelmann referred to the recommendations of World Resources Forum 2014, held in Peru in October, and Europe’s role in the global context. He was pleased that the Peruvian government will bring the recommendations to the attention of the COP20 meeting on Climate Change, to be held in Peru in December. The young people in Peru had also shown that “fun and laughter are compatible with solving the world’s problems” since “connecting brilliant ideas to people with power has a higher chance of success when done by taking not only rational approaches into account but also positive encouraging emotions”.

The two-day conference in Berlin has brought over 450 participants together, coming from 50 countries, and was organised by the German Federal Environment Agency. A student reporter blog has many stories  reported “live” from the conference. More information about agenda, speakers and background can be found on the conference website.