According to UN research, 50bn tonnes of sand & gravel are extracted by humans each year. This is enough to build a wall around the globe that is 27 metres high and 27 metres wide.
Sand is the second most-exploited resource, after water. It is not, however, recognized as a strategic resource by government and industry. The UN states that this must change.
UN report calls for increased monitoring of extraction and supply chain, and measures to compensate for the loss of animal and plant species.
The researchers stated that a fundamental shift in understanding and valuation of sand is urgently required due to the increasing human dependence on sand for economic growth in a variety of industries, including construction and IT manufacturing.
Pascal Peduzzi (director of the The Sand Institute) stated that sand is crucial for our entire development. Global Resource Information Database as the lead author of this report.
Sand extraction can take many forms, including the dredging lakes and rivers, as well as various types of land mining and the crushing rock. It is done by both large companies and individuals with basic tools. The current rate of activity is much higher than that at which natural sand resources can be replenished.
According to the report, an international standard on extraction is required if the material must be effectively regulated and governed fairly. The report recommends the establishment of legal frameworks that allow for mineral ownership of aggregates.
The goal is to shift attention to sand, which should be treated in the exact same way as other mineral commodities, such as water, oil, or gas. Dr Chris Hackney from Newcastle University, one of the report authors, said that this is the intention.
All of these are regulated at the local and national levels, within internationally agreed frameworks. This is completely missing for sands and aggregates at the moment.
The lack of governance has led to an informational black hole in the area of procurement and use of sand. Global Aggregates Information network estimated that aggregate production increased 4.9% from 42.2bn tons in 2020 to 44.3bn tons in 2021. The UN report stated that aggregate production estimates are not available and that the sand supply base globally is not known.
Sand extraction continues to drive biodiversity loss, exacerbates flood risk by removing natural barriers to storm surge like dunes, impacts the livelihoods and fuels conflict. Its end-uses are also the most significant industrial contributors of the climate crisis. recent estimatesIt is suggested that the concrete sector would have the third highest carbon emissions if it were a country.
Emerging researchSand and gravel extraction has been linked to the loss of more than 1,000 endangered species of animals, plants, and birds. The total number is thought to be 24,000 species.
However, formal recognition of sand means that it falls between the cracks in policy and legislative frameworks across many countries. This makes it difficult for consumers to understand the impacts of sand and places little pressure on governing bodies to take action. Kiran Pereira, a researcher, is the author of Sand Stories: Surprising Truths about the global sand crisis, and the search for sustainable solutions.
Pereira, who also contributed the UN report, stated that he personally finds it difficult to comprehend the scale of extraction in general.
However, this resource isn’t consumed evenly, she said. She cited the reports recommendations for reuse and incorporation alternative construction materials and techniques in developed countries.
The global population is expected to rise to nearly 10 billion by 2050. This is a significant increase in the demand for sand. Around 70% of people around the world are employed in the construction industry.Will live in urban areas.
A standards vacuum also has consequences for the human cost of sand-mining in parts of the globe where oversight and governance is poor and the material remains in high demand. More than 400 peopleSince 2020, India’s government officials and other officials have been killed in violence and other accidents due to sandmining.
The illegal sand extraction from Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, which is normally subjected to regulation, has increased in the aftermath of the pandemic. Authorities have been stretched financially and their priorities are elsewhere.
As governments around the globe pursue Covid recovery strategies that are anchored in construction-led economic growth, aggregate demand is on the rise again.
Hackney stated that standardization would aid efforts to establish the extent to which sand was extracted by illegal and/or non-legal practices. These factors have been complicated by many factors and act as a deterrent.
He said that if there were these standards, it would be easier to have the frameworks and the resources to enforce them at all levels.
This should be done in conjunction with better monitoring supply chains and scrutiny over links between governments, industries, and other interested parties. However, we believe that the type of top-down regulation recommended by us could cause a disruption in these chains.
This whole package of principles would make the activity less attractive and more worthwhile for actors currently participating.