Further development of policy options for an ecological raw materials policy

Strip mine in the midst of a forest

The extraction of raw materials and its economic, ecological, and social impacts require political action and the development of effective approaches for bi- and multilateral cooperation. While the resource strategies of the German federal government, the European Union, and the German resource efficiency programme ProgRess already take into account efficient use and security of supply, social and ecological impacts of resource extraction are increasingly gaining political and public attention.

This project built on the results of two preceding research projects, "Approaches for reducing negative environmental and social impacts in the extraction of metallic resources" (UmSoRess) and "Analysing the ecological boundaries of primary production of raw materials and developing a method for assessing ecological resource availability to improve the concepts of criticality" (ÖkoRess). In doing so, it linked experiences gained in the analysis of environmental and social standards with the assessment of environmental risks in the resources sector. It focuses on 51 resources classified as critical by the EU Commission in 2014.

The goal of this project was to expand existing criticality assessments, which have mainly taken into account economic factors, to also include an ecological and socio-political dimension. On that basis an expanded criticality assessment of 51 resources was done. The systematic assessment of specific resources and selected countries of origin helps to identify potential courses of action feasible in the respective national contexts. Beyond that, the results can be used at the European and international levels to advance environmentally responsible resource extraction and contribute to the further development of the German Resource Efficiency Programme (ProgRess III). Another significant component of the project was the communications strategy aimed at specific target groups. It aimed at the dissemination of the concepts of ecological criticality and ecological availability of extractive resources, particularly among political and social actors, in order to integrate the concept into existing approaches and initiatives.

On behalf of the Germany Federal Environmental Agency (UBA) and in collaboration with the Öko-Institut, Projekt-Consult, and the Ifeu-Institut, adelphi lead the work on the case studies assessing the ecological and social dimensions of resource extraction in specific countries and is responsible for their comparative analysis. On that basis, concrete policy recommendations for German environmental and resource policies were developed.

Publications of this project