23 August 2021
23 Aug 2021
Infrastructure consumes more than half the world’s materials - it will be key to advancing sustainable production and consumption
Infrastructureconsumesmore than half of the world’s projected materials annually, andG20 countriesareresponsible foraround 70% of this consumption, based on the International Resource Panel’s model*.The model forecastsindicatethat materials consumption bytheinfrastructure sector willbe 68% higher than the current levels in2060, andwouldimposean even greaterburden on the planet’s finite resources.
Given that infrastructure is the dominant user of materials, the sector is integral to advancing sustainable production and consumption patterns (Sustainable Development Goal 12) through the adoption of a circular economy approach. A circular economy is an economic system that organises production, supply and consumption of materials into closed loops, thereby reducing the pressure on the world’s finite materials and natural resource depletion.
The GI Hub has launched a circular economy initiative to examine the role of infrastructure in the transition to a circular economy. Infrastructure has a dual role to play, in (1) integrating circular economy principles into the infrastructure itself, and (2) building infrastructure that supports circular economy activity. Climate change, private capital mobilisation, resource scarcity and waste are the four main drivers for the transition of infrastructure towards a circular economy. To explore in more detail, visit the GI Hub Infrastructure and the Circular Economy webpage.
*Note: These estimates are based on the work of the International Resource Panel’smodelling workstream. It employs a population, urbanisationand economic growth scenario to the Socio-Economic Pathways 2 of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) ‘Middle of the Road Scenario’. Infrastructurematerials includeiron and steel, concrete, bricks, non-ferrous metals and structural timber. Aside from infrastructure, the othermajor contributors to global material usage include fossil fuel extraction and biomass.