Natural resources

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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
The number of countries recycling and composting more than 30% of municipal waste increased from 11 to 17 out of 35, and those landfilling more than 75% of their municipal waste declined from 11 to 8. more
Generation of municipal waste per capita has declined slightly from 2004 to 2012, but it is clearly better managed now than ten years ago. more
Europe's natural capital is under growing cumulative pressure from intensive agriculture, fisheries and forestry, and urban sprawl. A substantial volume of relevant EU legislation already exists but lacks adequate integration in sectoral policies.... more
The demands of a growing global population with rapidly changing consumption patterns for food, mobility and energy are exerting ever-increasing pressure on the Earth's ecosystems and their life-supporting services. In combination with climate... more
The large differences in performance indicate room for further improvement and actions to meet the 2020 target to recycle 50% of municipal waste. more
Global use of material resources has increased ten-fold since 1900 and is set to double again by 2030. Escalating demand may jeopardise access to some essential resources and cause environmental harm. Uneven geographical distribution of some... more
Although Europe’s pollutant releases are expected to continue declining, European ecosystems and citizens are likely to be affected by developments in other regions. For example, despite a fall in air pollutant emissions there has not been... more
For Europe this is a major concern as its economy is structurally dependent on imports. Although growing scarcity and rising prices should incentivise investments in technologies to alleviate supply risks, such innovations will not necessarily... more
Exacerbated by climate change and continued pollution, rates of global habitat destruction and biodiversity loss are predicted to increase, including in Europe. Continued degradation of global ecosystems and their services will influence poverty... more
European systems of production and consumption generate diverse environmental, social and economic impacts — supporting livelihoods globally but also creating significant environmental pressures. Household consumption expenditure in Europe... more
Forests provide a range of ecosystem services from capturing and storing carbon to providing bio-fuel, timber as well as social benefits. However, our forests, which have increased in area by 17 million hectares since 1990, face growing pressure... more
EU-28 domestic material consumption declined by 10% between 2000 and 2012, despite a 16% increase in economic output. Environmental pressures such as waste generation and harmful emissions were also reduced. Policies have contributed to this... more
Guided by diverse policies, European countries have improved waste management. Manufacturing and service sector waste declined by about a quarter in 2004–2012, while municipal waste generation fell 2%. Along with increased recycling, these... more
Globally, levels of air pollution and releases of nutrients from agriculture and wastewater remain high, causing acidification and eutrophication in ecosystems, and losses in agricultural yield. In the coming decades, overall pollution levels... more
Per capita consumption of material resources increased between 2000 and 2012 in 13 countries and decreased in 19. Significant increases were primarily due to large-scale infrastructure investments, with the largest declines related to the economic... more
Four countries have consistently been the most resource-efficient economies, with six remaining at the bottom of resource-productivity rankings, indicating opportunities for further improvements and actions. more
The claims on forests services are increasing. Understanding the role of more than 14 million forest owners/managers is imperative to developing balanced, sustainable policy on forest resources. more

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European Environment Agency (EEA)
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