Currently, the Earth is facing a natural resources crisis. Natural resources are being used at a rate faster than the Earth can replenish them. The use of natural resources is essential to human life, which means there needs to be a way to ensure that these natural resources can continue to replenish themselves. Overuse of fossil fuels and overexploitation of water and soil contributes to the growing climate change crisis.
Developing a sustainable plan for managing natural resources is one way to ensure that everyone can continue to use and benefit from natural resources. Sustainable management of natural resources involves using natural resources in a way that both maintains and improves the resilience of the environment and the many benefits they provide. It focuses on the sustainability of industries like agriculture, forestry, and fisheries, among others.
Managing natural resources involves having a scientific and technical understanding of natural resources and their important and life-sustaining capacity. The push for sustainable management of natural resources can be traced back to the 20th century, when it was realized that current preservation strategies had not been working to stop the rate of decline of natural resources.
In 2005, the European Commission developed a Strategy on the Sustainable Use of Natural Resources. This strategy aims to “reduce the environmental impacts associated with resource use and to do so in a growing economy.” The strategy focuses on creating more value and reducing the overall impact of the resources used. In addition, the strategy looks to find alternatives to natural resources if cleaner usage isn’t available. Over the course of 25 years, the strategy lays out a few specific measures to be taken towards this goal.
Some of those measures are creating a Data Center to gather information on natural resources and inform decision-makers in that space. The European Commission also worked to develop a set of indicators by which to monitor and review progress towards the goal of sustainable natural resource management.
While the European Commission has been one of the leaders in the push for sustainable management of natural resources, other countries are following suit. New South Wales, a state located on the east coast of Australia, established the Standard for Quality Natural Resource Management, which uses an adaptive management approach.
As more countries begin to understand how their reliance on natural resources impacts the environment, more standards will be put into place for sustainable practices.