By Stefan Ranstrand, President and Chief Executive Officer, TOMRA Systems ASA
The resource revolution comprises many elements, but chief among them is the need for action to be taken to ensure optimal resource productivity across the world.
Much has been made of the need for businesses and other organizations to assess the planet’s use of its finite resources and address the needs of the rapidly growing population, however this cannot be achieved without multi-discipline collaboration and creative thinking with many stakeholders.
We recognize that global resources are under unprecedented pressure, and that resource productivity can enable sustainable development. Over the next four decades, the number of people who need to be fed using existing farmland will increase by a third, and therefore it is easy to see change is needed.
We also recognize that simply identifying the need for change is not enough; creating opportunities and developing new approaches is essential to solving the problem, however without action the aim cannot be achieved.
Progress through technology
Smart solutions will be central to making the resource revolution a reality, and this is especially true when it comes to technology, which can and will play a vital role in making plans tangible.
Sensor-based solutions optimize our resources by making it easier to source, use, steward, reclaim, recycle and revitalize them.
Through proper education and implementation, we can make it possible for people and organizations to obtain more, use less and reuse resources, which will help to make the planet a more sustainable environment for its inhabitants.
A vision for a circular economy
The European Commission’s Union Environment Action Programme (EAP) is focused on stepping up efforts to protect natural capital, stimulate resource-efficient, low-carbon growth and innovation, and safeguard people’s health and wellbeing – all while respecting the earth’s natural limits.
The long-term vision of the programme is that, by 2050, the population will live well, within the planet’s ecological limits, with prosperity and a healthy environment stemming from an innovative and circular economy.
This circular economy will mean nothing is wasted and that natural resources are managed sustainably, with biodiversity being protected, valued and restored in ways that enhance society’s resilience.
A key factor in low-carbon growth will be a decoupling from resource use, which sets the pace for a safe and sustainable global society; which ties in with TOMRA’s mission, to provide sensor based solutions for optimal resource productivity, optimizing the world’s precious resources.
The vison set out is a robust one, but its possibilities extend far beyond the EU; nations across the globe must contribute to the resource revolution by rethinking the ways in which the planet’s finite resources are used today and reused for the future.
And it can only be brought to fruition by a collective effort from governments, politicians, the world’s businesses and the wider population to encourage action.
Innovation through education
We know that we must do more to help preserve the earth for future generations, and recognize that education will play a key role in helping to solidify this message for our own descendants.
UNESCO places a key emphasis on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), which empowers people to change the way they think and work towards a sustainable future by improving access to quality education on sustainable development at all levels and in all social contexts.
The aim is to transform society by reorienting education, and helping people develop the knowledge, skills, values and behaviors needed for sustainable development.
To help achieve this, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the global community for the next 15 years include ESD, which includes approaches such as Global Citizenship Education. TOMRA in developing its corporate social responsibility program from 2016-2020 has been heavily influenced by the SDG’s and is currently working to align our new CSR program accordingly.
While UNESCO is responsible for the coordination of the Global Action Programme on ESD, we can all play a key part in helping to shape perceptions and attitudes towards resource productivity by taking action to educate and get involved.
From recognizing the benefits of a circular economy, to contributing towards sustainable use and reuse, to embedding it into our personal and business culture, and by following up our words by taking positive action will ultimately help us to achieve the resource revolution.