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International Resource Panel

The International Resource Panel is a scientific panel of experts that aims to help nations use natural resources sustainably without compromising economic growth and human needs. It provides independent scientific assessments and expert advice on a variety of areas, including:

  • the volume of selected raw material reserves and how efficiently these resources are being used
  • the lifecycle-long environmental impacts of products and services created and consumed around the globe
  • options to meet human and economic needs with fewer or cleaner resources.
International Resource Panel
Formation 2007
Type Independent scientific panel
Key people
Janez Potočnik and Izabella Teixeira (co-chairs)
Parent organisation
UN Environment

The Secretariat of the IRP is hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) through its office in Paris, France.


Structure of the IRPEdit

Supported by a small Secretariat, the International Resource Panel comprises 35 expert members drawn from a wide range of academic institutions and scientific organizations (see table below). It is co-chaired by Janez Potočnik, former European Environment Commissioner, and Izabella Teixeira, former Environment Minister of Brazil. A Its Steering Committee includes over 20 governments as well as the EC, OECD, UN Environment. A number of civil society organizations are strategic partners, including the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and International Council for Science (ICSU).

History of the IRPEdit

While climate change and biodiversity loss have emerged as the world’s most pressing environmental issues in recent decades, both issues are increasingly being seen as symptomatic of a broader problem of overuse of resources and lack of attention to the impacts on the environment they cause. The resources in question include materials (fossil fuels, biomass, construction minerals and metals), water, land and energy.

The 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment found that rapid rises in human demands for natural resources have caused substantial and irreversible loss of biodiversity[1] Our current rate of consumption of resources such as fossil fuels, metals, water and timber, is unsustainable and inequitable. WWF has pointed out that if we continue to consume resources at current levels, by 2050 we will need two planet’s worth of natural materials to support the human race.[2]

The concept of sustainable use of resources was placed on the global governance agenda in 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development or ‘Earth Summit’ in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.[3] By 2005, several leading international environmental organisations were undertaking disparate work related to natural resources. The OECD was investigating sustainable materials management,[4] the European Commission put forward a new Strategy on the Sustainable Use of Natural Resources used in Europe[5] and UN Environment was conducting detailed studies into the way we use resources and their impacts.[6]

A need for scienceEdit

As various authorities began shaping policies to encourage sustainable consumption and production, two issues emerged. One was that the field was lacking the kind of rigorous scientific assessments that underpinned research into other environmental disciplines, such as climate change (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), biodiversity (Convention on Biological Diversity) and Ozone (Montreal Protocol). The other was that as raw materials are sourced, processed, manufactured into products, traded and consumed in locations around the world, any scientific assessments would need to be global in scope. Different regions also tended to treat the topic differently, depending on the volume of resources they used, methods they used to process resources and whether they had access to domestic resources or depended on imports.

The International Resource Panel provides scientific assessments related to the use of natural resources

The IRP was founded in 2007[7] as a way to address this void and support diverse efforts being made to shift the world towards sustainable consumption and production. By mid-2011, the IRP had released in-depth assessments on decoupling (the concept of separating economic growth from environmental degradation), biofuels, metal stocks, plus priority products and materials.[8]

The IRP a number of assessments, the topics of which include greenhouse gas mitigation technologies, efficiency of water use, trade, plus land and soils.

By providing the best available scientific information on using resources efficiently, the IRP aims to help the world shift to a ‘green economy’, where patterns of consumption and production are sustainable, all citizens have equitable access to resources and the enduring quality of the global commons is assured.

Reports launchedEdit

Panel membersEdit

Name Affiliation
Janez Potočnik Commissioner, European Commission – Environment (2010-2014), United Nations Champion of the Earth (2013), appointed Co-chair, International Resource Panel (2014).
Izabella Teixeira Minister of Environment, Brazil, 2016-16, Head of the Brazilian Delegation on negotiations of the Paris Agreement of the UN Convention on Climate Change. Appointed Co-Chair, International Resource Panel (2017)
Ashok Khosla International Resource Panel Co-Chair, President, IUCN, and Founder, Development Alternatives, India
Stefan Bringezu Director, Material Flows & Resource Management, Wuppertal Institute, Germany
Patrice Christmann Bureau de recherches géologiques et minières, France
Mark Swilling Professor, Sustainable Development, School of Public Leadership, Stellenbosch University.
Ester van der Voet Associate professor, Head of Industrial Ecology, Institute of Environmental Sciences (CML), Leiden University, the Netherlands
Marina Fischer-Kowalski Director, Institute of Social Ecology, Faculty for Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Klagenfurt, Austria
Thomas Graedel Professor, Industrial Ecology, Yale University, USA
Maarten Hajer Director, Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency; Professor of Public Policy, University of Amsterdam
Edgar Hertwich Professor, Energy and Environmental Systems Analysis, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Jeffrey (Jeff) Herrick info
Paul Ekins Professor, Resources and Environmental Policy, Director of the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources, and Director of Research at the School of Sustainable Resources and Energy at University College London.
Heinz Schandl Senior principal scientist, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Canberra, Australia.
Gete Zeleke Director, Water and Land Resource Centre, Ethiopia, Leader, Landscape Transformation Project for Horn of Africa, and African Coordinator of the Global Mountain Programme of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
Nabil Z. Nasr Associate Provost for Academic Affairs and Director of Golisano Institute for Sustainability at Rochester Institute of Technology and Founder, RIT’s Centre for Remanufacturing and Resource Recovery.
Yonglong Lu Chair and Research Professor, Regional Ecological Risk Assessment and Environmental Management Group at Research Centre for Eco-Environmental Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Elias T. Ayuk Director, United Nations University Institute for Natural Resources in Africa, Accra, Ghana.
Anu Ramaswami Charles M. Denny Jr Chair Professor of Science, Technology and Public Policy, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Professor, Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering, University of Minnesota.
Michael Obersteiner Director, Ecosystems Services and Management, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria.
Anders Wijkman Co-President, Club of Rome, Chairman, Swedish Association of Recycling Industries, Senior Adviser, Stockholm Environment Institute.
Vijay Kumar Distinguished Fellow, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).
A. Erinç Yeldan Professor, Economics, Bilkent University, Turkey.
Hezri Adnan Director, Technology, Environment and Sustainability, Institute of Strategic and International Studies, Malaysia.
Hans Bruyninckx Executive Director, European Environment Agency.
Antonio M.A. Pedro Director, Sub-Regional Office for Eastern Africa, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.
Margaret Kamar Director, International Centre for Research in Sustainable Development, Kenya.
Bruno M.C. Oberle Professor, Green Economy and Resource Governance, École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL).
Anthony Chiu Professor, College of Engineering, De La Salle University-Manila.
Porfirio Álvarez-Torres Executive Secretary, Consortium of Marine Research Institutions of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.
Seiji Hashimoto Professor, Ritsumeikan University.
Serge Salat President, Urban Morphology and Complex Systems Institute, Paris.
Stefanie Hellweg Professor, Ecological Systems Design, Institute of Environmental Engineering, Department Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, École polytechnique fédérale de Zurich (ETH).
Stephen Fletcher Head, Marine Programme, UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre, Cambridge, UK, Associate Professor, Marine Policy, Plymouth University.
Tanya Abrahamse Chief Executive Officer, South African National Biodiversity Institute.
Bing Zhu Director, Institute for Circular Economy and a Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Tsinghua University, China
Stephen Hatfield-Dodds Executive Director, ABARES - the economics and science bureau of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Australia
Saleem Ali Distinguished Professor, Energy and Environment, University of Delawar

Steering Committee membersEdit

Government Department
Canada Natural Resources Canada
Chile Comisión Nacional del Medio Ambiente
China The Ministry of Environmental Protection
Denmark Danish Ministry of the Environment
Egypt Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs
Finland Ministry of the Environment
France Ministry of Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and Regional planning
Germany Federal Ministry for the Environment
Hungary Ministry of Environment and Water
India Ministry of Environment and Forests
Indonesia Ministry of Environment
Italy Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea
Japan Ministry of Environment
Kazakhstan Ministry of Environmental Protection
Mexico Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources
Netherlands Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment
Norway Ministry of the Environment
Russian Federation Ministry of Natural Resources
South Africa Department of Environment Affairs and Tourism
Switzerland Federal Office for the Environment
Tanzania Ministry of Water and Irrigation
USA State Department
Intergovernmental Organization Department (if applicable)
European Commission Environment Directorate-General
Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
UN Environment
Civil Society Organization Department (if applicable)
International Council for Science (ICSU)
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)


  1. ^ Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, (2005). Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Synthesis. Island Press, Washington, DC.
  2. ^ WWF (2006), Living Planet Report.
  3. ^ Doris A. Fuchs and Sylvia Lorek, Sustainable Consumption Governance: A History of Promises and Failures
  4. ^ OECD OECD's Work on Sustainable Materials & Waste Management
  5. ^ European Commission, Sustainable Use of Natural Resources
  6. ^ UNEP Annual Report 2005 Sustainable Living
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ UNEP Publications Archived 2016-05-13 at the Portuguese Web Archive

External linksEdit