SEP: Mediterranean countries use more natural resources than their ecosystems provide

The latest issue of Science for Environment Policy (SEP) fetures a new study looking at Mediterranean countries and their use of natural resources - "Physical limits to resource access and utilisation and their economic implications in Mediterranean", published in Environmental Science & Policy.

In the Mediterranean region the demand for natural resources and ecological services is two and half times greater than ecosystems’ capacity to provide them, recent research has found. To meet this demand, countries rely on imports, exposing themselves to price volatility and potential resource shortages. According to the authors, a 10% increase in global prices would particularly impact vulnerable countries such as Jordan, which would see its trade balance worsening by 2.4% of its gross domestic product.

The recent study investigated consumption needs for natural resources and ecological services in the Mediterranean countries and their ability to satisfy such needs with domestic ecological assets. The methodology is based on Ecological Footprint accounting, which is a simple accounting tool used to summarise ecological resources and services contained in products made in, traded internationally, and consumed by a country. Resources include food and wood, while services include carbon dioxide locked in forests, which removes the gas from the atmosphere and helps to regulate climate.

The evidence provided shows the need for policymakers to recognise, measure and understand the interactions between ecological assets and economic performance in the Mediterranean area. The coexistence of limited bio-capacity and high footprint in the region, especially due to the carbon component (45%), might induce people in the countries to consider more sustainable consumption patterns. The researchers highlight the need to better manage natural resources and innovate for future wellbeing by, for example, encouraging new farming technology and coupling resource efficiency measures with considerations of the overall consumption levels.

Read more in the official SEP brief.

Original Source: 

Galli, A., Halle, M. & Grunewald, N. (2015). Physical limits to resource access and utilisation and their economic implications in Mediterranean economies. Environmental Science & Policy 51: 125 – 136. DOI:10.1016/j.envsci.2015.04.002.