RSTV: POLICY WATCH- NATIONAL RESOURCE EFFICIENCY POLICY
The Ministry released Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy envisions a future with environmentally sustainable and equitable economic growth, resource security, healthy environment (air, water and land), and restored ecosystems with rich ecology and biodiversity. The Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy is guided by the principles of (i) reduction in primary resource consumption to ‘sustainable’ levels, in keeping with achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and staying within the planetary boundaries, (ii) creation of higher value with less material through resource efficient and circular approaches, (iii) waste minimization, (iv) material security, and creation of employment opportunities and business models beneficial to the cause of environment protection and restoration.
Use of natural resources and materials form the backbone of global economies and in turn of human development and well-being. Driven by rapid economic and population growth, the demand for natural resources, especially materials have grown manifold over the last few decades. In the endeavor for economic growth, natural resources have been largely indiscriminately exploited, adversely impacting the environment and biodiversity. Further, cross linkages between resource use, climate change, land degradation and biodiversity loss has been scientifically well established. Concerns over rapidly depleting vital resources and adverse impacts on natural environment have lately gained greater prominence, resulting in increasing focus on judicious use of resources globally through combination of conservation and efficiency measures and advocating transition towards circular economy.
India, as one of the fastest growing economies with GDP at 2.6 trillion USD, has increased its material consumption to six times, from 1.18 billion tonnes in 1970 to 7 billion tonnes in 2015, however this economic growth has been coupled with inherent cost on natural environment. The material consumption is projected to more than double by 2030, in order to provide for increasing population, rapid urbanization and growing aspirations. The projected pace of economic development is going to put pressure on already stressed and limited resources and may lead to serious resource depletion and environment degradation affecting the economy, livelihoods and the quality of life. Further, material use is also closely associated with the problem of increasing wastes, which when suitably processed could deliver valuable secondary resources.
India as a signatory to UN Sustainable Development Goals is committed to provide for sustained economic growth along with sustainable use of natural resources and safeguarding environment. Resource efficiency has a vital role towards mitigation of climate change, land degradation and biodiversity loss. It is thus, imperative for India to charter and take the path of economic development supported with efficient use of resources.
SDGs directly linked with Resource Efficiency
- Goal 2 (End Hunger, Achieve Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture
- Goal 6 (Availability and sustainable management of water
- Goal 7 (Access to affordable, reliable and secure energy)
- Goal 9 (Build resilient infrastructure)
- Goal 11 (Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable)
- Goal 12 (Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns)
- It aims to streamline the efficient use of these resources with minimum negative impact on environment.
- It seeks to set up a National Resource Efficiency Authority (NREA) with a core working group housed in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and a members group with representations from different ministries, state/union territory, and other stakeholders.
- The authority would be supported by an Inter-Ministerial National Resource Efficiency Board to guide on the aspects critical to its implementation.
- It also plans to offer tax benefits on recycled materials, green loans to small and medium Enterprises (SMEs) and soft loans to construct waste disposal facilities, apart from setting up Material Recovery Facilities (MRF).
- Manufacturers and service providers would also be required to use more recycled or renewable materials and awareness would be created among consumers to indicate the shift.
- Idea of the national policy is to drive the country towards circular economy through efficient use of available material resources, based on principle of 6R and ‘green public procurement’.
- The 6R stands for reduce, reuse, recycle, redesign, re-manufacture and refurbish while the very premise of ‘green public procurement’ is to procure products with lower environmental footprints such as secondary raw materials and locally sourced materials.
- It also pitches for moving towards ‘zero landfill’ approach in the country, hinting at possibility of imposing ‘landfill taxes’ and ‘high tipping fees’ for bulk generators of waste so that they can move towards optimal use of materials and better waste management.
- According to data available, India’s resource extraction of 1580 tonnes/acre is much higher than the world average of 450 tonnes/acre, while material productivity remains low.
- Water is fast becoming scarce while deteriorating air quality has emerged as a major threat to human life.
- There has been massive soil degradation, with 147 million hectares (Mha) of a total of 329 Mha land area hit.
- Import dependency is nearly 100% for the majority of the ‘most critical’ materials -cobalt, copper and lithium that find extensive application in high-end technology industry.
- Over 80% of crude oil that is processed in the economy is imported, alongwith 85% of its coking coal demand. Extraction of non-metallic minerals is crippled with challenges.
- To add to the problems, the country’s recycling rate is just about 20-25% compared with 70% in developing countries in Europe. The situation will only aggravate as India is likely to double its material consumption by 2030.
Resource Efficiency (RE) and Resource Productivity:
Resource efficiency (RE) implies judicious use of earth’s limited resources to achieve maximum benefit for sustained human well-being while minimizing the adverse impacts on environment. It is the ratio between a given benefit or result and the natural resources use required for it.
Circular Economy (CE):
Circular economy (CE) is an alternative to the traditional linear economy in which resources are kept in use for as long as possible, extracting the maximum value, recovering and regenerating products and materials at the end of each service life.
Action Plans with timeframe of 3 financial years will be prepared by NREA in consultation with concerned ministries, state/union territory governments, government agencies and stakeholders. Resource efficiency strategies will be developed for specific sectors and regions by the concerned governing authorities (Central Ministries/State Governments) in consultation with stakeholders, which will lay out sector/region specific scope, targets, timelines, action plans and interventions. NREA will adopt these resource efficiency strategies into the 3 year Action Plans, for monitoring and reviewing progress, in consultation with concerned government authorities (Central Ministries/State Governments), agencies and stakeholders.
Monitoring of progress of the action plans is critical to the successful implementation of resource efficiency. NREA will lay out the targets, set of inventory data points on which reporting by concerned sectors will be made, resource efficiency indicators and reporting time frames. Concerned implementation agencies will lay out simple and effective monitoring frameworks for respective sectors and will be responsible to provide data points inputs to be fed into the national database. Progress on tasks undertaken for capacity building, pilot studies, research and development will also be reported by the concerned stakeholders to NREA.
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