Resource use and resource efficiency in the Asia-Pacific region

Over the last few decades, the Asia-Pacific region has experienced the most dynamic economic development of any of the world's regions, leading to a rapid increase in resource use and associated emissions. The region is now a major driver towards overshooting global resource use limits. In this paper, we provide an estimate of material use and resource efficiency in the Asia-Pacific region and its sub-regions for the first time, to complement existing knowledge on global resource use. We show that the Asia-Pacific has become the single largest user of resources globally, and that the efficiency of resource use in the region decreased over the period 1970-2005. Furthermore we show that the region's share of total resource use is now so significant that decreasing resource efficiency there has driven a decrease in overall global resource efficiency, for the first time in a century. Using an IPAT framework we found that rising per capita incomes contributed more strongly to growing material use than did population growth. Technology did not moderate material use growth to the extent expected. We argue that a failure to make these issues a central and immediate focus of public policy in the Asia-Pacific region would compromise competitiveness, resource security, and poverty reduction in the region over the medium to long term.

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