Science communication for a transition towards sustainable resource use
Stephan Lutter1, Stefan Giljum1, Christopher Manstein2
1Vienna University of Business and Economics, Austria; 2German Environment Agency
The world is using ever larger amounts of natural resources. This has profound environmental consequences, such as the destruction of ecosystems, or air, water and soil pollution. Furthermore, the dependency of many industrialised countries on resources from other world regions has grown, and international competition for scarce resources is intensifying. Hence, the issue of resource conservation has gained significantly in importance in the past years, both in economic and political terms.
In order to achieve a substantial turnaround regarding the amounts of resource use, action is required not only on the political level, but also by economic actors and civil society. Increasingly, scientific and public bodies attempt to (1) improve the data basis of the use of natural resources and (2) clearly communicate the dimension and structure of anthropogenic resource use as well as so-called “hot spots” for action. Reports such as “The Use of Natural Resources – Report for Germany 2016” by the German Environment Agency (UBA) shed light upon the current situation regarding resource use, dependency on direct and indirect imports or supply security, but also on environmental and social implications of resource extraction.
In this paper we discuss the role of such reports in the required transition towards sustainable resource use. We reflect on the opportunities and limitations of such reports to provide insights for environmental policy making as well as awareness raising among other relevant target groups and multipliers in this thematic area. We argue that science communication is an essential tool to achieve a transition towards a green economy and sustainable lifestyles. We conclude that in order to fulfil their full capacity, publications such as the UBA resource report must be at the edge of innovativeness with regard to layout, graphic and text design and provide best-practice examples from recent publications and online platforms.