Conference: Responsible or irresponsible: Europe's resource use and its impacts

10 November 2011

Europe imports huge amounts of resources; but exactly how much, and at what cost? Is Europe consuming natural resources responsibly; or irresponsibly over-consuming, without consideration of the impacts?

Europe is recognising the urgent need to tackle its resource dependency: the European Commission has published its Flagship Initiative on resource efficiency, and the Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe. This conference discussed what a responsible, resource efficient Europe should look like, and how to get there.

Measuring resource use as the key to understanding, and ultimately reducing Europe's consumption levels, will be explored, as will the exacerbation of social inequalities through Europe's consumption of resources.

Friends of the Earth Europe and Fiona Hall MEP hosted a two-day conference which brought these questions to European Parliament, highlighting the environmental, economic and social benefits of moving to a resource efficient future.

Conference overview:

  • Presentations on the environmental, economic and social impacts of resource efficiency;
  • Discussions on policy recommendations to measure Europe's use of resources, reduce Europe's dependency on natural resources from overseas and reduce the environmental, economic and social impact of Europe's resource use;
  • Assessment of the opportunities and benefits for Europe from improving resource efficiency;
  • Case studies including the extraction of lithium in Chile, cotton production in West Africa, and bauxite extraction in Brazil.

The conference brought together the European Commission, the European Parliament, industry, representatives of civil society from European and developing countries including communities affected by industry operations, and the media.