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Sustainability 2016, 8(8), 778; doi:10.3390/su8080778

Multi-Scale Governance of Sustainable Natural Resource Use—Challenges and Opportunities for Monitoring and Institutional Development at the National and Global Level

1
Center for Environmental Systems Research (CESR), University of Kassel, Wilhelmshöher Allee 47, Kassel 34117, Germany
2
Co-Chair International Resource Panel, Šmartno-Ljubljana 1211, Slovenia
3
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Black Mountain Laboratories, Clunies Ross Street, Acton, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601, Australia
4
Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences (RCEES), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Beijing 100085, China
5
Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota. 301 19th Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA
6
Sustainable Development Department, School of Public Leadership, University of Stellenbosch, PO Box 162, Lynedoch Stellenbosch, Western Cape 7603, South Africa
7
Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California, 3422 Bren Hall, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-5131, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Marc A. Rosen
Received: 10 May 2016 / Revised: 25 July 2016 / Accepted: 3 August 2016 / Published: 9 August 2016
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources)
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Abstract

In a globalized economy, the use of natural resources is determined by the demand of modern production and consumption systems, and by infrastructure development. Sustainable natural resource use will require good governance and management based on sound scientific information, data and indicators. There is a rich literature on natural resource management, yet the national and global scale and macro-economic policy making has been underrepresented. We provide an overview of the scholarly literature on multi-scale governance of natural resources, focusing on the information required by relevant actors from local to global scale. Global natural resource use is largely determined by national, regional, and local policies. We observe that in recent decades, the development of public policies of natural resource use has been fostered by an “inspiration cycle” between the research, policy and statistics community, fostering social learning. Effective natural resource policies require adequate monitoring tools, in particular indicators for the use of materials, energy, land, and water as well as waste and GHG emissions of national economies. We summarize the state-of-the-art of the application of accounting methods and data sources for national material flow accounts and indicators, including territorial and product-life-cycle based approaches. We show how accounts on natural resource use can inform the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and argue that information on natural resource use, and in particular footprint indicators, will be indispensable for a consistent implementation of the SDGs. We recognize that improving the knowledge base for global natural resource use will require further institutional development including at national and international levels, for which we outline options. View Full-Text
Keywords: natural resource governance; decoupling; abiotic and biotic resources; Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); consumption and production; Four Footprints natural resource governance; decoupling; abiotic and biotic resources; Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); consumption and production; Four Footprints
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Bringezu, S.; Potočnik, J.; Schandl, H.; Lu, Y.; Ramaswami, A.; Swilling, M.; Suh, S. Multi-Scale Governance of Sustainable Natural Resource Use—Challenges and Opportunities for Monitoring and Institutional Development at the National and Global Level. Sustainability 2016, 8, 778.

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