According to the expert group, "most pressing action" should concentrate on abating pollution from poor resource use and on preserving "life-supporting resources" such as water, soil and biodiversity. Economic instruments such as environmental taxes are the "most obvious" way of achieving this, they say in a report on the meeting just published by the Commission. Two other instruments mentioned were integrated product policy - a subject on which the Commission is currently drafting a separate policy paper - and improved research and development of resource-saving technologies.
The meeting revealed a fundamental split on whether the EU should pursue a "weak" or "strong" resource sustainability strategy. Under the first view, natural capital such as dyes or medicinal substances from plants can be replaced to a large extent by man-made alternatives, while the second states that only long-term preservation of natural capital will guarantee sustainability.
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