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The Earth's natural resources are vital to the survival and development of the human population. These resources are limited by the Earth's capability to renew them. Although many effects of overexploitation are felt locally, the growing interdependence of nations, and international trade in natural resources, make their demand and sustainable management a global issue. More
- Key facts and messages
- Natural resources and waste — Environmental regulation and eco-innovation have increased resource efficiency through a relative decoupling of resource use, emissions and waste generation from economic growth in some areas. However, absolute... more
- Biodiversity and the ecosystem services upon which we all depend are inextricably linked. Both are under pressure from humanity's ever-increasing use of natural resources. Europe's high resource consumption results in an ecological footprint... more
- Soil is a largely non-renewable natural resource that underpins a range of vital ecosystem services. Soil organisms play a key role in soil processes, such as bio-geochemical cycles, organic matter decomposition, and nitrogen transformation.... more
- Certain regions of Europe are affected by soil salinisation, acidification, landslides or desertification, with considerable economic and environmental consequences. Soil degradation is accelerating in many parts of Europe, exacerbated by human... more
- Nutrient enrichment is a major problem in the coastal and marine environment, where it accelerates the growth of phytoplankton and can lead to oxygen depletion. Concentrations of some heavy metals and persistent organic contaminants in marine... more
- Consumption of goods and services in the EEA member countries is a major driver of global resource use – and associated environmental impacts – as the levels of European demand exceed the continent’s ability to meet them from within its... more
- The growth in global trade is resulting in an increasing share of the environmental pressures and impacts caused by consumption in EU countries being felt beyond their borders. While some of this shift is between EU countries, a large part is... more
- Europe, like much of the industrialized world, is using an increasing amount of materials. The EU-27 average annual use of material resources is some 16 tonnes per person. On average, about six tonnes of waste per person are generated each year... more
- Europe's economy is heavily dependent on imported raw materials — in 2011 approximately 1 600 million tonnes of raw materials were imported into Europe – that’s about 3.2 tonnes per person. Fuels accounted for most of this amount. more
- The European economy generates more than five tonnes of waste, including hazardous waste, per inhabitant each year, and each citizen throws on average half a tonne of household waste into the bin. more
- More jobs at higher income levels are created by recycling than compared to landfilling or incinerating waste. Overall employment related to the recycling of materials in European countries increased by 45 % between 2000 and 2007. more
- Public water demand in eastern Europe has declined by 40 % since the early 1990s as a result of higher water prices and the economic downturn. A similar but less marked reduction in demand is apparent in western Europe over recent years, driven... more
- Recycling can meet a large proportion of the economy’s resources demand, alleviating pressure on ecosystems to provide resources and assimilate waste. Recycling already meets substantial proportions of demand for some resource groups, notably... more
Rivers are home of many thousands of wildlife species, vital arteries for farmland, a source of cooling for industry, flood regulation, navigation channels and source of drinking water, to name just a few important functions. Such multiple demands on water bodies mean that many different groups need to be actively involved in managing a river basin.
Europe can create jobs and encourage innovation by using resources much more efficiently, according to a new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) which describes a range of policies with proven environmental and economic benefits.
Europe is one of the few regions of the world where forest cover has increased over the last century. To mark International Day of Forests (21 March), the European Environment Agency (EEA) takes a look at Europe’s valuable forest ecosystems.
Water pollution and excessive water use are still harming ecosystems, which are indispensable to Europe’s food, energy, and water supplies. To maintain water ecosystems, farming, planning, energy and transport sectors need to actively engage in managing water within sustainable limits.
Europe’s freshwater supplies are under pressure. To improve the understanding and management of water resources, the European Environment Agency (EEA) has created a comprehensive series of map layers showing hydrological features. The tool, providing support to policy makers, spans river catchments from Iceland to the edge of the Persian Gulf.
At last week’s Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, delegates did not agree to any ambitious treaties or deadlines for dealing with pressing issues such as climate change, food and water scarcity. However, there were many positive signs for the future global environment.
This week the Rio de Janeiro summit on sustainable development will open. Rio+20 is an opportunity to look back at changes in our environment since the first Earth Summit in 1992, and also a time to look to the future, re-evaluating the way our economies and our societies depend on the environment and natural resources.
Humanity’s growing appetite for bigger houses, overseas travel, food and consumer goods is the main cause of our most pressing environmental problems, according to a new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) which considers the links between the environment and consumption.