This section provides papers, in-depth articles and links to websites that provide analysis of how we use and manage our consumption of the world's materials and resources, and what we can do to be more sustainable with them (linked to achieving the SDGs by 2030).
Plastic is an intrinsic part of the world economy – it is virtually everywhere we look. Indeed, we have seen its value to us as the world has had to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
How can we continue to use plastic responsibly and sustainably?
The ubiquitous material of concrete is everywhere we look. Whilst it provides humanity with many benefits, these benefits come at a cost to the sustainability of our planet (as this BBC article also highlights). How can we use it responsibly and sustainably?
The global production of steel accounts for some 7-9% of total greenhouse gas emissions. Technology exists to improve steel production, and the World Steel Association provides environment and climate change guidance on their website.
Will the steel industry change?
Cacao and cocoa, and the chocolate industry, is a major contributor to the global economy. It supports livelihoods in many developing parts of the world. How can we ensure we keep it sustainable?
For more than half the world’s population, rice is on the menu every day. It is a crop that we have come to rely on it heavily. But there’s a catch. Will we have enough water to grow it in future?
Researchers are exploring the potential of "ignored crops" - forgotten, under-used or ‘alternative’ - that have been displaced by increasingly uniform diets and processed ingredients from the "major crops".
Coffee pickers have become harder to hire amid the coronavirus pandemic. How has the coffee trade survived COVID-19? What does it take to make a cup of coffee in today's world?
We consume citrus fruits all around the world. What efforts are being made globally to ensure that this major commodities group is managed in a sustainable manner?
The meat and dairy industry’s demand for soya is driving environmental crisis in one of the world’s most threatened forests. This piece highlights the challenges we face in harvesting this bean.
Has coal had its day?
Despite all the efforts to reduce carbon emissions, coal plants are still operating.
How can we move forward in a sustainable manner?
Lithium is crucial for the transition to renewables, but mining it has been environmentally costly. Now a more sustainable source of lithium has been found deep beneath our feet.
The demand for, and use of copper (along with other metals) continues to rise. As the world moves toward a low carbon energy future, how will our use of copper be sustainable and responsible?
We can’t grow crops without phosphorus. To get it, farmers often rely on fertiliser that is expensive and hard to often obtain. But there might be a more resilient and sustainable way forward.
In a rapidly changing world with increasing demand for raw materials, is it possible to make their extraction truly 'responsible'? This initiative is packed with information and perspectives on "RRM".
When it is responsibly managed, gold mining can have a positive impact on socio-economic development in countries where it is found. The World Gold Council describes their approach.
Our use of hydrogen for energy is not new. However, the way that we are finding out about using it is. How can we use hydrogen responsibly and sustainably as part of our global energy mix?
Do you know about the ITER project in the South of France? This international effort is focused on producing nuclear fusion, which could be a critical energy source for the future.
Today, a growing number of voices within the fossil fuel industry believe that the world’s appetite for oil might have reached its peak. Following the COVID-19 pandemic and various geopolitical changes leading to yet more demand for oil, will we manage to stop using it?
The advent of "big battery" technology addresses a key challenge for green energy – the intermittency of wind and solar. More and more places around the world are taking note.
This piece from the BBC published on 28 Dec 2023 describes how, according to Modvion, a Swedish start-up that has built the world's tallest wooden turbine tower, using wood for wind power is key to the future...
Do we ever stop to think about the amount of resources, and energy, that goes into making our modern smartphones, and indeed other electronics that we use?
The carbon footprint of all such devices is growing. This piece "The Life of an iPhone" is a visual story of iPhone production, use and disposal published on ArcGIS.
With the world in the midst of the first global energy crisis – triggered by Russia's invasion of Ukraine – the World Energy Outlook 2022 (WEO) provides indispensable analysis and insights on the implications of this profound and ongoing shock to energy systems across the globe.
Based on the latest energy data and market developments, the 2022 WEO explores key questions about the crisis: Will it be a setback for clean energy transitions or a catalyst for greater action? How might government responses shape energy markets? Which energy security risks lie ahead on the path to net zero emissions?
The world’s energy and climate future increasingly hinges on whether emerging and developing economies are able to successfully transition to cleaner energy systems, calling for a step change in global efforts to mobilise and channel the massive surge in investment that is required, according to a report released in June 2021 by the International Energy Agency.
This infographic by Visual Capitalist provides a very good overview of the resources we use, and which ones dominate our consumption habits today.
This infographic by Visual Capitalist shows the split of greenhouse gases today.
This webpage provides a range of articles and papers on how we can maintain a sustainable food industry for the future.
This paper by The Geological Society provides an overview of how geology can play its part towards helping to successfully integrate hydrogen into the world's energy mix.
From lower carbon emissions to fewer potholes, there are a number of benefits to building a layer of plastic into roads.
This infographic by Visual Capitalist shows the exports of resources around the world - which is also an indication of the environmental positions of countries.
This piece by The BBC describes a project to build a giant island which will provide energy for three million households in Denmark. The world's first energy island will be as big as 18 football pitches (120,000 sq.m), and it may be expanded to be three times that size.
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