Commission starts consultation on sustainable use of natural resources

On 1 October, the Commission presented its first ideas on how to use natural resources more efficiently while achieving the economic growth objectives of the Lisbon strategy.

The Communication presented on 1 October initiates a policy-defining debate involving the EU institutions, and public and private stakeholders. An Advisory Forum, chaired by the Commission, will be established to steer this policy development process. Working groups will be set up to address specific resources or key issues.

The Commission has identified three core elements of its future natural resources strategy:

  • knowledge gathering: the strategy should initiate and monitor work on understanding the links between use of resources and impacts at each stage of the lifecycle;
  • policy assessment:: proposed future policies should be assessed on their impact on other policy areas (e.g. socio-economic impacts);
  • policy integration:: political decisions should be taken in the wider context of sustainable development (e.g. on prices and subsidies).


A first stakeholder meeting was already held on 10 April 2002. For an overview of positions expressed during that meeting, see thesummary of discussion.


Natural resources such as water, air and soil, metals, minerals, coal, oil, gas etc. are the ecological capital needed to sustain economic development and growth. However, the use of these resources in the past has led to concerns about their possible scarcity (e.g. the report of the Club of Rome) and about the environmental impact of their use.

Several global environmental conferences and the EU's 6th environmental action plan (6th EAP) have pointed to the need to 'decouple' economic growth and environmental degradation. Therefore, the EU committed itself in its 6th EAP to work out a Thematic Strategy on the sustainable use of natural resources.


  • A second stakeholder meeting will be held on 14 November 2003.
  • The Commission will present its comprehensive strategy on sustainable use of natural resources in 2004.


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