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Contemporary Resource Policy and Decoupling Trends—Lessons Learnt from Integrated Model-Based Assessments


Addressing climate change and natural resource depletion has been key to the international and national sustainability agenda for almost 30 years. Despite existing efforts, global CO2 emissions and raw material use levels continue to grow. This seems to suggest the need for more systemic approaches in environmental policy. Our paper contributes modelling results to assess the potential of efficiency improvements to achieve absolute decoupling of global raw material use and environmental impacts from economic growth. We apply the global, dynamic MRIO model GINFORS to simulate potential effects of raw material efficiency improvements in production against a climate mitigation scenario baseline. Our simulation experiments indicate that (rather radical) progress in the raw material efficiency of production technologies in concert with extensive climate mitigation efforts could enable an absolute decoupling of resource use and CO2 emissions from GDP growth at a global level and for some countries. The absolute raw material extraction levels achieved, however, still exceed the material use reduction targets suggested by sustainability scientists. Our findings highlight that achieving such targets without addressing rebound effects is implausible. Hence, we call upon policy makers to integrate rebound mitigation strategies and move beyond exclusively improving efficiency to tackling structural and behavioural changes. This open access publication is available here.

The WORLD Model Development and The Integrated Assessment of the Global Natural Resources Supply

The report describes the WORLD6-Model which was adapted in the SimRess project. WORLD6 model is developed to simulate potential future supply and scarcity of a numberof natural resources. The main objective of this report is to outline the overall structure of the WORLD6 model and provide a detailed description of the “resources” module implemented in the model. In the WORLD6 model, resources are clustered under METALS, MATERIALS and ENERGY sub-modules. For each of the modelled resources, model simulation results were presented and an associated integrated assessment was provided under separate sections of this report. In general, the WORLD6 model simulation results suggests that most of the supply peaks for metals, materials and fossil fuels will occure around the middle of this century. This will lead to some of the most serious industrial, political and social challenges of our times and will require careful preparation and research in order not to disrupt the functioning of society. Substantially better degree of recycling offers a long term sustainable and secure supply of most resources.

The English report can be downloaded here.

System analysis for environmental policy – System thinking through system dynamic modelling and policy mixing as used in the SimRess project

Diverse and complex interactions as well as multi-actor systems characterise resource use and re-source policy. This makes system analysis a relevant tool to orient resource policy towards the long term. Analysing such complex systems requires systemic thinking, consideration of causal loops as well as time-lags and delays in system responses.
In the SimRess project, system analysis encompassed participatory conceptual system modelling via involving external stakholders into identifying system boundaries and elements via causal loop dia-grams (CLDs). The CLDs were than reflected in the parametrisation of simulation models and the de-velopment of policy mixes.
Only a limited number of stakeholders participated in two of the five workshops needed for a fully fledged group modelling process. Therefore, the project team finalised internally the conceptual sys-tem model. Although this reduced ownership and transparency of the system model, the two work-shops provided relevant system knowledge for further modelling work and policy mix development.
During policy mix development in SimRess, we needed to deviate from the theoretical concept of pol-icy mixing based on available project capacities and stakeholder decisions. On the one hand, under-standing and assessing cumulative effects of policy mixes challenged conceptual policy mix devel-opment and simulation capacities. On the other hand, stakeholder decisions impacted on the depth at which system analysis via simulation models could be undertaken.

The English report can be downloaded here.


Presentation for the Workshop "Resource conservation and resource productivity: modelling approaches for assessment of economy-wide material flows and potential policy impacts ", 7/12/2016, Ecologic Institute, Berlin


Looking to the Future: Trend Report for a Forward-Looking
Resource Policy

In this Trend Report Ecologic Institute's Susanne Langsdorf and Dr. Martin Hirschnitz-Garbers analyse more than 300 individual trends, allocated to 12 trend themes. They discuss the potential developments and relevance for German resource policy.


Project flyer SimRess (English)


First Group Modelling Workshop Report

This report written by Deniz Koca and Harald Sverdrup presents the major outcomes from the first group modelling workshop; as well as an overview of the group modelling work we expect to complete with a series of workshops in Berlin.

Second Group Modelling Workshop Report

This report contain the results of the second group modelling workshop.


Full write-up: A Progress Report of the Two SimRess Group Modelling Workshops.


PPT: The World Model and the SimRess-Project. Limits to growth. Simulation of resource efficiency policies


Workshop invitation: Resource Conservation and resource productivity - Modelling approaches and policy options, 7/8 December 2016, Berlin


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Die Zukunft im Blick: Trendbericht für eine vorausschauende Ressourcenpolitik

In diesem Trendbericht untersuchen Susanne Langsdorf und Dr. Martin Hirschnitz-Garbers (Ecologic Institut) mehr als 300 Einzeltrends, die zu zwölf Trendthemen zusammengefasst wurden. Sie erörtern deren mögliche Entwicklung und potentielle Bedeutung für die nationale Ressourcenpolitik.


PPT: Das Modell GINFORS3 in SimRess


Projekt-Flyer SimRess (deutsch)


Einladung zum Workshop: Ressourcenschonung und Rohstoffproduktivität -Modellierungsansätze und politischer Handlungsspielraum, 7./8. Dezember 2016, Berlin




  Ecologic Institute





Lund University


sponsored by:


Federal Environment Ministry
FKZ: 3712 93 102.