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Think2030 conference – Session focus on resource management law

Towards an EU resource management law: how to tackle excessive use and consumption of materials

The extraction, use and discarding of material resources make a significant contribution to the critical environmental problems that we face today: climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss. The EU’s material footprint sat at 14.5 tonnes per capita in 2022 – around double the estimated sustainable level – meaning that the EU consumes far more than its fair share of the world’s resources. In 2022, the EU’s economy was only 11.5% circular, highlighting significant untapped potential for circularity.

Such consumption levels pose a serious risk to the achievement of the Green Deal’s objectives for the EU to become a climate-neutral, resource-efficient and competitive economy, and to the attainment of the goals of the European Climate Law and the EU Circular Economy Action Plan. Indeed it has been noted that the EU has exceeded the planetary boundaries for use of mineral and metal resources, for climate change, for use of fossil-fuel-based products, for particulate matter, and for ecotoxicity in fresh water.

It is, therefore time for the EU to take greater steps towards more sustainable management and use of resources. At the heart of this should be an overarching ambition to use fewer material resources whilst continuing to meet the needs of the EU and its people.

This represents a significant challenge. The shift to a cleaner, greener and more circular economy requires access to the materials needed for new technologies such as those linked to the energy transition – with associated increased demand for some materials. Profound economic shifts and changes in production methods will also be needed in various industries to ensure the EU’s climate and circular economy targets are met.

So what could actually be done at the EU level?

This panel will provide an opportunity to discuss different policy approaches that could be taken, including the introduction of a new overarching EU material resources law with a headline consumption reduction target. The panel and participants in the session will be invited to share their views on how resource consumption could be reduced whilst ensuring that potential negative impacts on various actors are minimised.

Moderated by Antoine Oger – Research Director, Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP)

Presentation by Emma Watkins – Senior analyst, Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP)


• Lasse Miettinen – Director of Sustainability Solutions at the Finnish Innovation Fund (SITRA)

• Janez Potočnik – Co-Chair of the International Resource Panel

• Bram Soenen – Senior expert product policy, Belgian Presidency

• Nazaré Couto – CENSE, member of Think Sustainable Europe network in Portugal

• Tetra Pak representative (name tbc)

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