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Toward Science-Based and Knowledge-Based Targets for Global Sustainable Resource Use
The article discusses key aspects to be considered for the orientation of sustainable resource policies. Resource management at the local scale needs to be supplemented by governmental action in order to adjust production and consumption toward acceptable levels of global resource use. What is acceptable is being informed by scientific findings on environmental degradation and relevant cause–effect relationships. However, the desired state of the environment, the tolerable level of uncertainties about environmental impacts, risks of societal conflicts, and ethical considerations all involve normative considerations. Policy decisions for sustainable global resource use must be taken on the basis of imperfect information. A wider systems perspective, longer time horizon, and broader involvement of available knowledge could provide a sufficiently valid basis to derive directionally safe targets. Possible proxy targets for global biotic and abiotic resource use, considering land, biodiversity, and water issues, are presented on a per-person basis for 2050 for further discussion and research. These values could be used to assess the resource footprints of countries with regard to sustainability, providing orientation for governments and industry.