Resource Efficiency

Resource Efficiency

overview pic

Did you know, that the Asia Pacific region

  • Needs double the quantity of material resources as input to produce each dollar of GDP, compared with the rest of the world
  • Accounts for more than 50% of all resources consumed globally
  • However, produces only about 32% of world economic output comes from the Asia-Pacific region

Resource Efficiency can help improve this situation -  But, you might ask: What is Resource Efficiency?

  • Resource Efficiency is a very important, but relatively underutilized, concept that is essential for sustainable development
  • Resource Efficiency is about creating higher well-being and producing more goods and services, while using fewer resources and limiting harmful emissions and wastage

overview pic2

Therefore, Resource Efficiency is one of THE key approaches for improving the sustainable management of natural resources and for achieving future sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region!

On the tab menu, you can find useful country factsheets and case studies with examples of Resource Efficiency applications for different countries.

You are only one click away from regional challenges, policies, and initiatives, and finding opportunities for improvement, so why wait? Start now!

Source adapted from: UNEP (2015), Resource use in the Asia-Pacific - A booklet of infrographics, United Nations Environment Programme, Bangkok.


  • Resource Efficiency is a key approach for enabling sustainable development in Asia-Pacific and for promoting the sustainable management of natural resources
  • Creating higher economic and social well-being, producing more goods and services, with fewer inputs and emissions is the way forwards for the Asia-Pacific region
  • However, to achieve this, we need drastic changes!

HOW can we do this?

The shift towards Resource Efficiency can be achieved in different ways. There are four main types of resources: land, material (biomass, fossil fuels, metal ores and non-metallic minerals), water, and energy. Each resource has strong linkages with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), so increasing efficiency in each of these key areas greatly helps their achievement.

Improvements in resource efficiency in economics seem to be associated with[1]:

  • Progress in human development (measured by HDI)
  • Reduction in unemployment levels
  • Improved access to water, sanitation and energy

We must improve efficiency across all resources holistically to accomplish the goals in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

There are already multiple global initiatives that are trying to help promote Resource Efficiency in the Asia-Pacific:

  • Many Green Growth concept initiatives are already in place across the Asia-Pacific region, facilitating the development towards more Resource Efficient and sustainable societies (See resources to read more).
  • The 10-Year Framework of Programmes (10YFP), a global framework of action to advance international cooperation and sustainability, sees managing Resource Efficiency as one of their most crucial policies.
  • The largest programme on Sustainable Consumption and Production in Asia, SWITCH Asia, strives to fortify national and regional policy approaches aimed at Resource Efficiency.
  • The 7th Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development brought focus on the theme of Resource Efficiency and member states resolved to take concrete measures to advance it together throughout the region. 
  • We need macro level and sectoral policies to promote resource efficiency (The case studies and references provide details on some important policy approaches).

However, despite regional efforts, the Asia-Pacific region has seen ever increasing resource use since 1990.

  • Domestic Material Consumption per capita has risen by 270 percent in low-and middle-income economies, as opposed to only 10 percent in the high-income ones on average.
  • Material Footprint per capita has similarly risen by almost 280 percent and 29 percent for low-middle and high-income countries, respectively.
  • However, economic output did not match with this increased usage of resources and production has expanded in more resource inefficient economies of the region
  • Since 2000, the region has witnessed declining trends in resource efficiency (in terms of material resources)

The urgency for creating more resource efficient societies has increased with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Countries must together make a radical change in the management of their most valuable resources and their production and consumption processes. We must transform our economies to become more innovative, inclusive, and environmentally-sustainable.

[1] Read for more details

Tools and Methodologies
tools and methodologies pic
Source adapted from: UNESCAP (2012), Low Carbon Green Growth Road Map for Asia and the Pacific, UNESCAP, Bangkok


Integrating Resource Efficiency into national and regional planning will require strong promotion of the concept as a key enabler for sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region. Increasing awareness of resource efficient strategies and how to facilitate their implementation is a primary goal of this platform. It will help government officials and other stakeholders to better understand the urgency for Resource Efficiency developments in accomplishing the targets from the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and partner organizations have developed various valuable resources to assist policy makers in achieving the above goals. On top of this, there are many other useful online sources through which policy makers can expand their knowledge on the topic. Below is a menu of relevant published methodologies, online platforms, and informative publications. Apart from the material accessible from the E-Learning course, these resources will serve as a means of further investigating key topics related to Resource Efficiency. These references will complement the knowledge from the course and serve as a basis for policy makers to better understand its context and necessity for future sustainable development.

ESCAP Resource Simulation

UNESCAP Resource Efficiency Simulation 


Resource Watch
analysing resource efficiency

Analysing Resource Efficiency Transitions in Asia-Pacific

green growth

Green Growth, Resources and Resilience: Environmental Sustainability in Asia and the Pacific

resource use in asia-pacific

Resource use in the Asia-Pacific infographics

shifting from quantity to quality

Shifting from quantity to quality: Growth with equality, efficiency, sustainability and dynamism

green growth indicators

Green Growth Indicators: a practical approach for Asia and the Pacific

low carbon green growth

Low Carbon Green Growth Roadmap e-learning course

CLOSING THE LOOP: Unlocking the informal economy in an inclusive circular economy approach

Closing the loop: Unlocking the informal economy in an inclusive circular economy approach

Additional Resources:

Resource Efficiency