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Results of the GES Resource Summit


Resource Summit Calls for Fair Resource Trade


  1. An efficiency revolution is possible.
  2. Resource efficiency provides opportunities for countries and firms.
  3. Waste materials can be turned into resources.


At the recent Resource Summit in Kiel, experts called upon policymakers to establish a framework for fair international trade in resources and thus to provide a prerequisite for an efficiency revolution. At the summit, which was moderated by Tagesschau news anchor Jan Hofer, Prof. Klaus Töpfer, former federal environment minister and chair of the Energy Ethics Commission, Prof. Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, former dean of the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California and former president of the Institut für Klima, Umwelt und Energie in Wuppertal, Dr. Thorsten Grenz, CEO of Veolia Umweltservice, and Prof. Dennis J. Snower, president of the Kiel Institute, sketched out solutions to challenges posed by international resource trade. The summit was held by Veolia Umweltservice, together with the Kiel Institute, during Kiel Week under the title of “Global Resources - Global Responsibility: Solutions to the Race for Resources.”




The results of the GES Resource Summit will serve as a cornerstone of this year's GES Session Shaping a Global Resource Strategy, where the topic will be more deeply investigated (Link leads to this session in the Virtual GES). The GES Resource Summit on 22nd of June was jointly organized by the Kiel Institute and the Veolia Umweltservice GmbH.


Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker stated that sliding increases in the prices of primary resources are needed.

    “It is technologically and economically possible to increase resource productivity fivefold within one generation,” said Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker. He continued that this would be possible in industries that are highly energy intensive, such as in the steel industry, the cement industry, agriculture, and transportation, and would, at the same time, reduce the GHG emissions of these industries drastically. He also stated that “Countries and firms that are pioneers in the efficient use of resources will become the technology leaders of the 21st century.” He thinks that sliding increases in the prices of primary resources that are paced to match increases in resource productivity are urgently needed.” This would not only make good economic sense, but would also provide the economy with the best ecological and technological basis, according to von Weizsäcker .

      Klaus Töpfer stated that he envisions a future in which there will only be resources and no waste products

      He thinks that economic solutions are the best solutions:

      “Environmental policy can use economic incentives to improve the quality of life for present and future generations. Economically oriented environmental policy does not impede economic development, but rather fosters technological advances that create new markets and new jobs.” Industry already knows what opportunities a green economy can provide and the recycling industry can play a key role, he said. “My vision is that in the future there will only be resources; waste products will no longer exist.”


      Dennis Snower stated that economic growth needs to be decoupled from the availability of resources.

      He stressed that markets for strategic resources are often inefficient: “The industrialized countries’ race for limited resources spawns corrupt allocation of resource concessions, violations of human rights in exploiting resources, and gross disregard of environmental protection regulations.” Such initiatives as the EITI (Executive Industries Transparency Initiative), which increases the transparency of money flows and licensing practices in the resource sector, and the coordination of resource and environmental policy at the G20 level are the only way, according to Snower, to bring about a fair and efficient framework for resource trade. He further thinks that resource efficiency should be increased by using targeted measures to promote recycling and the development of new green technologies, and thus to decouple economic growth from the availability of resources.

      Thorsten Grenz stated that the recycling sector could make industry more resource independent.

        He stressed that the recycling sector could contribute to resolving the majority of resource problems. He continued that the recycling sector has increased its turnover by 520 percent since 1995 and produced secondary resources worth €9.6 billion in 2010, according to the Institut der Deutschen Wirtschaft, and it is projected to produce secondary resources worth €20 billion by 2015. And, he continued further, a quarter of the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions in Germany is attributable to the recycling sector. He also stressed that “the recycling sector in the EU could also reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the EU by equally as much by 2020 given the appropriate framework. Providing a safe, affordable, and environmentally friendly supply of energy and resources will be one of the greatest challenges in the coming years.” Further, he stated that the recycling sector could make industry much less dependent on cartels and politically unstable countries.


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