Dr Heinz Schandl, Dr Graham Turner, Dr Franzi Poldy and Prof Steve Keen - members of the Resource Efficiency: Economics and Outlook project team.

Dr Heinz Schandl, Dr Graham Turner, Dr Franzi Poldy and Prof Steve Keen presented their environment-economy model to UNEP in Bangkok 2009.

Resource efficiency in Asia and the Pacific

CSIRO worked with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to assess the challenges associated with resource use in the Asia-Pacific region.

  • 2 October 2011 | Updated 3 July 2013

An international consortium of research institutes and universities, led by Dr Heinz Schandl, have created a detailed picture of resource use patterns in the Asia-Pacific region from 1970 to 2008, a period of rapid growth in natural resource use.

The 2013 report Recent Trends in Material Flows and Resource Productivity in Asia and the Pacific [PDF 2.12MB] shows that materials consumption by the Asia-Pacific region’s population giants continues to increase at a rapid rate. This means that the region continues to dominate world material flows.

The focus of the 2013 report is on the relatively few countries which are the highest consumers. It examines the ten countries which are the greatest aggregate consumers in 2008: which is different to the regional overview of the 2011 report.

The database that underpins the report is available – the CSIRO and UNEP Asia-Pacific Material Flows online database – and contains data on economy wide material flows, and a range of associated indicators, for countries in the Asia – Pacific region, for the period 1970 to 2008.

This latest report from 2013 builds on the 2011 report Resource Efficiency: Economics and Outlook for Asia and the Pacific (REEO) [PDF 41.62MB] which considered demand for and use of natural resources both as drivers for, and as consequences of, economic activity and social development. It highlighted the recent history of natural resource use in the Asia-Pacific region from 1970 to 2005, a time of unprecedented economic development in many countries in the region.

The project has involved innovative modelling using a technology-based physical stocks and flows model created by CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences.

In developing these reports the team looked at past, present, and future resource use patterns, including material, energy, water, land use, carbon emissions and air pollutants in the Asia-Pacific region. They used economic modelling to provide a range of possible scenarios for the future and to explore ways in which policy can support sustainable development.

The project has involved innovative modelling using a technology-based physical stocks and flows model created by CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences. This model traces all resource flows that occur in production and consumption activities.

In addition, a non-equilibrium, multi-sector economic model created by the University of Western Sydney was used to represent the inherently cyclical nature of national economies.

Based on these two models, the team established three scenarios, (i) a business as usual, (ii) resource efficiency and (iii) systems innovation scenario, in order to identify resource use constraints to economic development.

The research has resulted in a detailed report addressing firstly the concepts of resource efficiency and systems innovation, then related policy decision making, and resource efficiency challenges in the region, concluding with specific policy recommendations.

The reports were prepared for the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) by the CSIRO in collaboration with the University of Western Sydney, Australia, the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), Japan, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), India, and the Institute of Policy and Management Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China.

A related project by the team looks at Recent trends in material use and resource productivity in the Latin America region.

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