With two thirds of the world’s population, global consumption and production patterns are shaped by the Asia-Pacific.
How are citizens of this region living?
How is this changing?
What implications does it have for the future?
But how does this add up?
How do we measure what we took from the earth to meet our needs?
This can be quantified by our material consumption.
In 2015, Asia consumed 46 billion tonnes of materials, more than half the global total of 81 billion tonnes of materials.
This means that global consumption and production patterns are shaped by the Asia-Pacific.
Take a look at this video
“In 2015, Asia consumed 46 billion tonnes of materials”
Consumption patterns are changing rapidly – in the year 2000, the average person in Asia consumed 4.5 tonnes of materials every year. Fifteen years later, this has doubled to 9 tonnes per person. Our lifestyles have changed for the most part for the better as a result – better access to food, housing and transport, and far more access to disposable income for our leisure activities. However, there have been downsides as the region has seen major increase in both pollution and waste emissions.
Citizens, policy makers and business alike are now looking into more resource efficient ways of meeting the needs, wants and dreams of Asia’s citizens.
How would our material consumption change if we had efficient public transport?
What if people spent their spare income on the arts and community projects, rather than fast fashion?
What if we shifted to low meat diets based on seasonal produce?
What if we all used energy efficient lighting?
What if our electronics lasted longer and could be repaired instead of replaced?
What kind of business models can support sustainable lifestyles?
What should policy makers do to help?
Asia’s Consumption is growing at 6.7% per year! Production is growing at 4.8% per year. There is no sign of slowing down under ’business as usual’, and soon consumption will outpace production. (Where will it all come from?!)
Exports: 3.5 trillion tonnes. So, 93% of materials passing through the region stay in the region. Some of it is useful, some of it is waste/pollution.
Imports: 5.5 trillion tonnes. This means Asia imports more than it exports.
Our collective efficiency is low. We use 3kg for every dollar of economic activity.
China needs 6kg/$, Mongolia is the least efficient in the region, needing 17kg/$, Japan is the most efficient, requiring 0.25kg/$. The rest of the world only needs 1kg/$. The good news? There is a huge opportunity in this region for efficiency improvements!
Why is natural resource use in the Asia-Pacific of specific interest?
(1) We are home to 2/3 of the world’s population
(2) We are still building infrastructure
(3) Our citizens are rapidly getting richer! There are more homes, cars, phones, food and clothes per person.
What does this mean for the environment in Asia?
Natural resource use is the interface between our economies and the environment. Extraction and eventual use of resources causes massive impacts through agriculture, mining, forestry, fisheries– each of which lead to the major desertification, air and water pollution and waste issues with which we struggle.