International Trade in Resources: A Biophysical Assessment

International Trade in Resources: A Biophysical Assessment

In this report entitled ‘‘International Trade in Resources: A biophysical assessment’’, the IRP examines how efficient the current system of world trade is in distributing resources from the geographical locations of supply to the locations of demand. By examining trade from a biophysical (versus an economic) viewpoint, the authors of the report seek to assess whether or not trade allows commodities to be obtained from countries where their production requires fewer resources and generates a smaller amount of wastes and emissions.

The report was prepared by the IRP’s Working Group on Environmental Impacts, with the aim to enhance knowledge on the nature, location and size of the environmental impacts of trade. It provides a comprehensive synthesis of the latest scientific evidence on the ‘‘upstream resource requirements’’ of international trade. These refer to the materials, energy, water and land used along the production chain of traded commodities, and function as a proxy for the ecological effects of trade


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UNEP International Resource Panel



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