Resource management

Sound strategies are needed to ensure sustainable resource management

Sound strategies are needed to ensure sustainable resource management

A delivery man carries bags of food and water out of a subway station in Beijing. (AFP)

One of the greatest threats to global sustainability is the depletion of essential natural resources upon which billions of people depend daily. We are already seeing the ramifications of resource scarcity in a number of telling scenarios. In April, the FAO Food Price Index, which measures the monthly change in the international prices of a basket of food products, reached 158.5, a sharp increase of 66% from the pre-war level. COVID-19 of 95.1. Adding fuel to the fire, economies and societies are currently struggling with expensive and volatile oil prices due to conflicts and production disruptions.

A number of interconnected factors are driving the perilous trend towards resource scarcity. Population growth and improved income levels in recent decades have increased the demand for natural resources. The demand for water, food and oil is expected to continue to increase exponentially as the world’s population is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050. According to a study published by the UN, water scarcity is already affecting approximately two-thirds of the world’s population, with disastrous consequences to come. In addition, increasing rates of urbanization will require cities to provide transport links and meet energy demands, while mitigating excessive waste generation and rising pollution rates, which affect natural resources.

The lack of global, national and local monitoring of natural resources has also led to rampant incidents of deforestation, illegal fishing and overfishing, and pollution. Improving the promulgation and enforcement of environmental regulations is another area that needs improvement. Moreover, a lax commitment to directing consumer consumption, especially when it comes to food and water waste, is depleting natural resources at an alarming rate.

Governments cannot ignore the disastrous effects of resource scarcity. Without shrewd policies and robust efforts to address sustainable resource management, the world could face more conflict and civil unrest as pockets of people plunge into poverty, with their livelihoods diminished and the quality of their reduced health. Competition for resources would exacerbate international and regional instabilities and tensions as countries ban the export of valuable resources. Meanwhile, global economic growth would be held back across all sectors due to volatility in the prices of key production materials, such as energy or precious metals.

To address the urgency of this political challenge and avoid future chains of catastrophic events, a global consortium of powerful and influential actors is needed to manage, oversee and stabilize this portfolio with a long-term vision that balances economic growth with environmental conservation and human well-being. -being.

A global consortium of powerful and influential players is needed to manage, oversee and stabilize this portfolio.

Sara Al Mulla

A fully-fledged strategy on resource management should cover key areas, such as food and water strategy, circular economy, transport, sustainable business, sustainable housing and waste management. Natural resource monitoring should be done at the national level through smart, high-quality data that provides decision-makers with insight into the state of the country’s resources. It would also allow policymakers to assess the market situation and look for warning signs that require fiscal provisions, in addition to preventive and mitigating policies to see through high-risk events.

Countries should also build their resilience to unpredictable risks and volatile markets by investing in vast reserves, clean technologies, climate-friendly operations, and reducing waste at every stage of the resource life cycle. At the same time, social protection systems must be resilient enough to support the livelihoods of vulnerable groups in the event of an unexpected catastrophic event.

Governments should also step up their efforts to improve the workforce in order to seek “green jobs”, with a focus on improving energy and raw material efficiency, limiting gas emissions to greenhouse effect, the reduction of waste and pollution, the conservation and restoration of natural ecosystems and the facilitation of the transition to climate-friendly measures, according to the definition conceptualized by the International Labor Organization.

As such, school and university curricula should equip students with an excellent foundation in science, technology, agriculture and engineering subjects – all of which will form the backbone of strategic green sectors. The current workforce should also be re-skilled to shift to green sectors, with many improvements needed in managing natural resources, creating efficiencies, complying with environmental regulations, integrating green spaces into life urban and innovative green technologies.

Another important facet is guiding consumer consumption of these valuable resources. Many countries already have programs and measures in place to actively encourage environmentally friendly lifestyles and consumption behaviors, raising consumer awareness of preferred environmentally friendly alternatives and explaining their role in preservation of natural resources.

Along the same lines, government regulations and incentives targeting the business sector should be optimized to ensure sustainability and not encourage resource depletion or excessive waste generation. Strategic partnerships should be encouraged with world-class research centers and innovation hubs to provide sufficient investments that will pave the way for the discovery of relevant solutions for sustainability, resource efficiency and waste reduction . Businesses should be encouraged to adopt these clean technologies and innovations to achieve an optimal balance between economic growth and resource sustainability. Governments should also organize regular symposia and forums to deepen the dialogue on the issue of sustainable resource management with the presence of actors such as the public sector, companies, municipalities, academics, researchers, innovators and civil society.

By prioritizing the sustainability of our natural resources, we can work together to ensure a more secure, prosperous and equitable future for generations to come.

• Sara Al-Mulla is an Emirati civil servant interested in human development policy and children’s literature. She can be reached at www.amorelicious.com.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the authors in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Arab News