EU Natural Resources policy: Signposts on the roadmap to sustainability

The need for robust natural resources policy is becoming increasingly evident, with worries over availability and prices of food, water, energy and specific metals that are central to the low-carbon economy approaches being developed around the world. The EU’s foray into policies in natural resources is still relatively early and under-developed, and the EU’s economic strategy, ‘Europe 2020’, focus on resource efficiency provides high-level political attention to this complex, often controversial area of policy. Having produced a resource efficiency flagship initiative document in January 2011 in the Europe 2020 context, the European Commission is to publish a resource efficiency roadmap later in 2011 which will provide more detail on medium and long-term objectives and how they will be met. Given the complexity of the issues, a natural resources policy framework requires mechanisms at the high, mid, and low-levels, with some fundamental elements necessary for the development of effective policies given continuing data gaps, building on existing policies and developing a future agenda.