UN launches natural resources advisory panel

Jia Hepeng

      The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has launched a new international panel to inform governments on the sustainable use of natural resources, such as wood and oil, at a global level.

Launched at the World Science Forum last week (9 November), the International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management will provide scientific assessments and expert advice on the degree to which certain resources are used, whether supplies are adequate and the environmental impact of using selected resources.

"Although there are already various environmental groups producing many reports, ours will be more scientific and comprehensive," Sylvie Lemmet, director of the Division of Technology, Industry and Economics of UNEP told SciDev.Net.

UNEP did not reveal the size and funding of the panel, but Lemmet said at the launch that experts recommended by governments of both developed and developing countries including China, India, South Africa and Thailand will be involved.

Lemmet says the panel will explore ways that human society can survive amidst increasing pressures on the environment. "Think of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the impact its reports have had on us."

Mart Musandya, a panel member from Tanzania, says that the panel will be important for Africa. "African countries are resource-rich, yet poor management has failed to grow the economy."

By involving scientists from developing countries, particularly Africa, in the research process, the panel is expected to produce feasible solutions on resource management, he added.

The involvement of China with its rapid economic development and huge environmental problems in global efforts to tackle environmental problems will be crucial, says panel member Ren Yong, deputy director of the Centre for Environmental Economics of the State Environmental Protection Administration of China.

UNEP has been struggling to launch an intergovernmental panel on the environment due to a lack of consensus between the European Union and many developing countries on how the panel would work and the issues it should focus on (see UNEP gets mixed reaction to environment panel idea).

15th Nov 2007