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Keywords:

  • Asia;
  • capacity building;
  • indicator;
  • industrial ecology;
  • policy analysis;
  • resource productivity

Summary

The global consumption of natural resources is soaring, especially in rapidly industrializing economies. This increasing demand is depleting resource stocks and is a major driver of other environmental problems, including climate change and waste. With rising prices and growing concerns about resource access, these trends are increasingly attracting policy makers’ attention. Some developed countries have devised indicator systems, based on economy-wide material flow analysis/accounting (EW-MFA), to monitor resource consumption. This article consists of two separate but related parts: (1) a study of how EW-MFA indicators are used in a number of developed countries, including analysis of the commonalities between countries that are actively using these indicators in policy, and (2) a survey of the current capacity for EW-MFA in developing countries, including data availability and policy uptake. This study found that countries in which policy makers show a great interest in EW-MFA indicators are characterized by large resource imports and large net export of manufactured goods. Many rapidly industrializing countries demonstrate similar characteristics. The study of developing countries found that many of the data for EW-MFA exist, but collection is fragmented and access is limited. This article recommends that capacity development of EW-MFA in rapidly industrializing economies should first coordinate a national focal point and then raise awareness among government officials, strengthen institutions collecting EW-MFA data, and train researchers and experts in EW-MFA techniques and effective policy interaction.