WRF calls for Resource Efficiency at UNCTAD Meeting

Geneva, 21 March 2013 Investing in resource efficiency is a smart longterm strategy for stabilising commodity markets with no regrets. This was the key message of WRF Managing Director Bas de Leeuw who spoke to last week’s UNCTAD expert meeting on commodities and development.

He presented an analysis of the outcomes of the last three WRF’s, respectively held in 2009 and 2011 (Davos) and 2012 (Beijing), which shows the following top 3 policy recommendations: increasing resource efficiency, investing in alternative resources, renewable energy and recycled materials (urban mining), and securing supplies by means of strengthening international cooperation. Download presentation here (PDF).

He also presented upcoming work of the WRF in a 4-year Sustainable Recycling Industries (SRI) project, together with Empa and SECO (the Swiss Economics Affairs State Secretariat), which will aim at establishing sustainability criteria for non-renewable secondary raw materials.


Participants were interested in circular economy, standards, and resource efficiency concepts, but some stated that these may be less relevant in the case of developing countries. Acknowledging that specific policies may differ according to economic and social circumstances, policy priorities, structural market differences, and knowledge and skills,  De Leeuw said that in general “closing loops and doing more with less might be all the more important when you have few resources”.

Resource efficiency creates space, so that markets can become less volatile and more predictable. He added that capacity building, technology tranfer, also South-South, would be important policy priorities. 

For in-depth discussions on resource efficiency in the context of development one participant called for a World Resources Forum to be held in Africa, an idea which was welcomed by the audience.

The objective of the meeting was to enable commodity-dependent developing countries (CDDCs), in accordance with the Doha Mandate to identify measures in order to secure, as a priority, adequate access to food and energy, use commodity revenues in contributing to economic growth and poverty reduction and cope with the challenges of commodity price volatility.

The meeting was organised by Samuel K. Gayi, Head of the Special Unit on Commodities, and his team.

All information, including background material, program and presentations are to be found on the UNCTAD website, where you will also find the chairman’s summary of this meeting once available (expected end of April).

Our photo gallery (pictures by Jean-Philippe Escard, UNCTAD and Veronika Rekasi) is here.