Environmental indicators, modelling and outlooks

Resource efficiency


Improving resource efficiency is among the top priorities in today’s world, as governments, businesses and civil society are increasingly concerned about natural resource use, environmental impacts, material prices and supply security.

In recent years, the OECD has undertaken a number of projects in order to inform governments and other stakeholders on how to improve resource efficiency:

1. Two OECD Council Recommendations were delivered:

2. In April 2008, the OECD co-organised with UNEP a conference on resource efficiency, in Paris. This multi-stakeholder conference brought together governments, businesses, international organisations and civil society to review how improved resource efficiency can reduce the negative environmental impacts of natural resource extraction, materials processing, use and disposal, while securing adequate supplies of materials to sustain economic activity.

3. A number of reports have also been published:

Resource Productivity in the G8 and the OECD (2011)

This report responds to a request by G8 Environment Ministers at their meeting in Kobe in 2008 and presents an evaluation of progress on resource productivity. It highlights key trends and main policy developments related to resource productivity in OECD countries, with a particular focus on efforts to implement sustainable materials management. It identifies the main policy challenges and opportunities and discusses the steps that need to be taken to achieve further progress.


Measuring Material Flows and Resource Productivity (2008): Synthesis ReportFull GuideThe Accounting Framework, and Inventory of Country Activities

These guidance documents reflect the state of the art concerning experience with material flow analysis and related indicators in member countries. They aim to help achieve greater convergence of already existing initiatives and to facilitate wider dissemination and uptake of existing experience and guidance.

Volume I describes the full range of MF approaches and measurement tools, with a focus on the national level and emphasis on areas in which practicable indicators can be defined. It includes (i) an overall framework for material flow analysis (MFA), (ii) a description of different kinds of measurement tools, (iii) a discussion of those issues and policy areas to which MFA and material flow indicators can best contribute, and (iv) guidance on how to interpret material flow indicators.

Volume II provides a theoretical and technical description of the concepts and methodologies of material flow accounting. It builds on the 2003 SEEA Handbook and takes into account recent developments in this field.

Volume III takes stock of activities related to the measurement and analysis of natural resource and material flows in place or planned in OECD countries and in selected non member economies. It describes the main features that characterise such activities and the extent to which information on material resources is used in environmental reporting and in decision making.


Eco-Efficiency (2008)

This report (i) examines past trends, in order to evaluate the extent to which economic activity is coupled to pollutant releases and resource use; (ii) reviews initiatives to improve eco-efficiency at the firm, community and household level and identifies ways in which governments can provide encouragement and guidance; (iii) evaluates the potential for economy-wide improvements in eco-efficiency and identifies government policies that can help achieve that potential; and (iv) suggests strategies that governments can pursue in partnership through the OECD.