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Sustainable Resource Management
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Sustainable Resource Management

Global Trends, Visions and Policies 

Contributing Editors: Stefan Bringezu and Raimund Bleischwitz, Wuppertal institute, Germany
September 2009   338+vi pp   234 x 156 mm  
hardback   ISBN 978-1-906093-26-6   £40.00  

Alternative formats: eBook (PDF)

Review copies   Inspection copies
Radical perspectives on how the global economy should use natural resources in intelligent ways. Based on exhaustive research by Germany’s Wuppertal Institute.

This title is available to buy as an eBook in the following DRM-free formats: 


Preview samples   Introduction 


Buy this title together with Sustainable Growth and Resource Productivity: Economic and Global Policy Issues and save £30/€30/$40.

Buy now   More info

Sustainable Resource Management is the result of years of exhaustive research by Germany’s Wuppertal Institute. Looking at material flows, industrial and societal metabolism and their implications for the economy, this important new book provides radical perspectives on how the global economy should use natural resources in intelligent ways that maximise well-being without destroying life-supporting ecosystems. It presents a vision of the future and the fundamental elements necessary for the sustainable management of the Earth's resources. It argues that the need to manage the use of our natural resources at a sustainable level can be shaped into a great opportunity for innovation and for new institutions to govern change.

Sustainable Resource Management first provides an overview of the methods it has used to analyse the physical basis of our economies, from the product and firm level through to sectors and whole countries, considering material flows and life-cycle-wide impacts on the environment. Indicators are described that reflect the volume, structure and physical growth of the socio-industrial metabolism, resource productivity and the share of domestic and foreign resource use. By accounting for the global land use of different countries and regions, the book aims to better assess the global implications of domestic activities. For example, linkages are made between the consumption of food and non-food to land use change, such as the expansion of cropland at the expense of natural ecosystems.

Sustainable Resource Management presents a number of key findings. Comparing the resource use of the EU with the USA, Japan and China, it determines why there is a difference. It provides evidence about the decoupling of resource use from economic growth, at the expense of an increased reliance on foreign supply. There are two closely analysed case studies, on platinum group metals (PGM) and biofuels, which provide insights into the key drivers of resource use and related problem shifting. Another key finding is that only a limited number of sectors, both on the production and consumption side, are actually associated with major resource requirements and atmospheric emissions — so synergies between resource conservation and climate protection can be found. Evidence is also given of a possible link between a low level of resource productivity and a high risk of unemployment.

Sustainable Resource Management also looks into the future and provides visions of sustainable resource use, including the necessary conditions for a sustainable metabolism in the EU. Four example-rich visions are laid out approaching the future from different angles: the resource-efficient and recycling-based industry, the steady-stocks society, the solarised technosphere, and the balanced bio-economy. Each examines key conditions for a low-risk and high-opportunity future, while accounting for likely trade-offs between dematerialisation and rematerialisation, between renewable energy sources and non-renewable materials, between construction and deconstruction of buildings and infrastructures, and between domestic production and the import of biomass products.

Finally, Sustainable Resource Management provides a blueprint for how a more sustainable future may be achieved. It analyses the legitimacy of public policies for sustainable resource management, looks at market deficits and barriers, and considers the global nature of the challenge. Crucially, it lays down the key elements of a strategy roadmap: First, better information, dissemination and knowledge generation. Second, innovative market policies to encourage new business models. Third, industry-specific policies — particularly where current resource use patterns are significant and a huge demand for adaptation and system innovation exist, such as in automotive or metal production. Last but not least, an international convention on sustainable resource management is proposed.

This significant new book will be essential reading for researchers, EU and national governmental officials; and business and NGOs with an interest in concepts, strategies and instruments to improve resource productivity and sustainable resource management from the regional and sectoral levels to the international level.


This is a very readable and informative book ... The book will be extremely useful for post-graduates and policy-makers, offering a series of scenarios and techniques for the developing field of resource policy.
It is time for educators to ensure that the sustainability theme is included in all subjects, together with discussion of social responsibility. Students need to understand a broad world view; and that it will be their responsibility to guarantee that the impact of these issues is examined at all levels and in every aspect of their jobs. Their generation has to secure real business change based on recognition of the finite nature of our natural resources that is so comprehensively discussed in this book.
Philippa Collins, Greener Management Journal 3.2 (2/2011)


This book will make an important contribution to achieving the goal of a 21st century Green Economy. It puts natural resources centre stage backed by a vision and compelling policy options.
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UN Environment Programme Executive Director

This book provides profound analysis; eye-opening and inspiring reading.
Ernst U. von Weizsäcker, Chair of the International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management

Human societies face a threatening future of resource scarcity and environmental damage, exacerbated and accelerated by climate change. This book is a clear exposition, from two leading experts in the field, of what policy makers and businesses need to do not only to address the challenges, but also to make the most of the associated opportunities.
Paul Ekins, Professor of Energy and Environment Policy, UCL Energy Institute, University College London

1. Introduction

Stefan Bringezu and Raimund Bleischwitz
This item available in PDF format for free download     Download


2 Analysing global resource use of national and regional economies across various levels

Stefan Bringezu, Isabel van de Sand, Helmut Schütz, Raimund Bleischwitz and Stephan Moll
This item available in PDF format   43pp £10.00     Buy now

3 Europe’s resource use: basic trends, global and sectoral patterns, environmental and socioeconomic impacts

Stefan Bringezu, Helmut Schütz, Mathieu Saurat, Stephan Moll, José Acosta-Fernández and Sören Steger
This item available in PDF format   104pp £10.00     Buy now

4 Visions of a sustainable resource use

Stefan Bringezu
This item available in PDF format   62pp £10.00     Buy now

5 Outline of a resource policy and its economic dimension

Raimund Bleischwitz, Bettina Bahn-Walkowiak, Stefan Bringezu, Rainer Lucas, Sören Steger, Henning Wilts, Mathias Onischka and Oliver Röder
This item available in PDF format   82pp £10.00     Buy now

Stefan Bringezu is Director of the Research Group on Material Flows and Resource Management at the Wuppertal Institute. He is a biologist by training (PhD, habilitation). He has worked on chemicals assessment, supply systems and environmental planning, lectured at several universities, initiated scientific networks (ConAccount, co-founder of ISIE), and pioneered on methods such as MFA and derived indicators. He is an Inaugural Member of the International Panel on Sustainable Resource Management. His main area of interest is the analysis of the socio-industrial metabolism and related land use and the instruments to sustain resource supply, use and waste management.

Raimund Bleischwitz is Co-director of the Research Group on Material Flows and Resource Management at the Wuppertal Institute. An economist by training (PhD and habilitation), he also holds a professorship at the College of Europe, Bruges. His research interests include the socioeconomic analysis of resource management, incentive systems, market evolution, international environmental economics, EU and Japanese policies. He is regularly invited as a speaker to major conferences and seminars both in academic and professional circles. In the academic field, he has led a series of multi-country evaluation and study teams and has been involved in a number of projects at European and international level.