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Use sand resources carefully or you risk the UNEP report’s fallout
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Use sand resources carefully or you risk the UNEP report’s fallout

All countries must be aware of the fact that their development is at risk if they do not take better care and protect a valuable resource that can be found on many of the world’s beaches and in our oceans.

Sand and Sustainability: Ten Strategic Recommendations to Avoid a CrisisThe world cannot continue to take 50 billion tonnes of sand from the ground and sea each year without serious consequences.

Pascal Peduzzi, Director at GRID-Geneva, stated that our sand resources do not have an infinite supply and that we must use them wisely. UNEPCoordinator for the report programme.

We must fundamentally change how we produce, consume, and build products, infrastructures, and services in order to achieve sustainable development.

Precious resource

Sand is the most commonly used resource worldwide, after water.

The world uses 50 million tonnes of sand each year. This is enough to build a wall 27m wide by 27m high around the Earth.

The new report finds that sand must be considered a strategic resource because of its dependence on us. Its extraction and use should be rethought.

Mr. Peduzzi said that if we can manage the most important solid material in the universe, we can avoid a crisis.

Take care when extracting

This report offers guidance on how to switch to better practices for extracting and managing this resource.

According to the authors, sand must not be considered a building material but a strategic resource that plays multiple roles in the environment.

Sand extraction from rivers or coastal or marine ecosystems can cause erosion, salination, loss of storm surge protection, and impacts on biodiversity. This can pose a threat to livelihoods including water supply and fisheries as well as the tourism industry.

The authors emphasize that governments, industry and consumers must price sand so that it recognizes its true environmental and social value.

Shifting sands

Because it protects against storm surges, and sea level rise, keeping sand on the coasts is probably the most cost-effective strategy to climate adaptation. They argue that such services should also be considered.

The report also proposes the development of an international standard for how sand is extracted in the marine environment. This would be a significant improvement on current marine dredging practices, which are open to international companies and subject to public tenders.

It also recommends that beaches be closed to sand extraction, as it is essential for coastal resilience, the environment, and the economy.

Our dependence on sand should be recognized as a strategic resource. Its extraction and use must be reassessed., Mr. Peduzzi attested.

Global Goals impact

Sand is essential for economic development as it is an essential component in concrete production for vital infrastructure.

It also provides habitats and support biodiversity.

It is vital for achieving the objectives. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and tackling the triple planetary crisis of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss, sand is being used faster than it can be naturally replenished, making its responsible management crucial.

Circular economy

These policy measures will encourage a virtuous and circular economy for sand by banning the disposal of minerals wastes and encouraging sand reuse in public procurement contracts.

The report also mentions that crushed rock and recycled construction materials, demolition material, as well as ore-sand made from mine tailings, are viable options that should be incentivized.

To make sand more effectively managed and to implement best practices, new legal and institutional structures will be needed.

Sand resources should also be mapped, monitored, reported on, and everyone involved in their management must allow for place-based solutions and avoid one-size-fits all solutions, the paper stated.

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