On 27 November, representatives of the G20 countries convened in Berlin at the invitation of Federal Minister for the Environment, Barbara Hendricks, for what was the first meeting of the G20 Resource Efficiency Dialogue. This new government process, which was set up at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, aims to promote the more considerate and efficient use of natural resources such as raw materials, water and land among the world’s 20 leading economies. Ms Hendricks and Matthias Machnig, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, came together to open the conference.

Minister Hendricks said: “If we want to meet the targets agreed upon in the Paris Agreement on climate protection, we need to invest in resource efficiency. By using resources more efficiently, we can save energy, reduce the need for transport and protect important ecosystems. We need products, production processes and lifestyles that take account of resource efficiency. By establishing this new government dialogue process which focuses on resource efficiency, the G20 is showing that it can take on global environmental issues.”

State Secretary Machnig said: “Resource efficiency is key to strengthening and modernising Germany as an industrial hub. Digitisation and lightweight construction are two elements that help drive forward resource efficiency and that particularly benefit fast-growing emerging economies. The establishment of the G20 government dialogue process is an important step towards launching the necessary process of networking and exchanging with one another.”

The decision to set up a regular dialogue process on resource efficiency was made at the G20 Summit in Hamburg which was held from 7 to 8 July 2017. Today and tomorrow, the first meeting of this government process will be taking place here in Berlin, in what will be one of the last meetings held under the German G20 presidency. We are expecting government delegations from the G20 countries to take part in the event, as well as representatives of international organisations, business, academia and civil society.

We will hear from the representatives of large firms and research institutes, who will explain to us how they are making use of the principles of the circular economy to redesign their production processes or product range and how they are considerably reducing their consumption of resources in the process.

As shown by the International Resource Panel’s calculations, annual resource consumption, which currently stands at 85bn tonnes, could rise to around 186bn tonnes by 2050 if no countermeasures are taken. By investing in resource efficiency and climate change mitigation, resource consumption could be reduced by 28 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by more than 60 percent, whilst global economic output would increase by 1 percent, the Panel writes.

Germany will be passing on the presidency of the G20 to Argentina on 1 December 2017. Subsequently, Japan and Saudi Arabia will assume the presidency of the G20 in 2019 and 2020 respectively.