Sand crisis looms as world population surges, UN warns

Sand is the second-most exploited natural resource
Image: Daniel Steyn

A UN report on Tuesday called for urgent action to avert a “sand crisis,” including a ban on beach extraction as demand surges to 50 billion tonnes a year amid population growth and urbanisation.

Sand is the most exploited natural resource in the world after water, but its use is largely ungoverned, meaning we are consuming it faster than it can be replaced by geological processes that take hundreds of thousands of years, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report says. Read full storyRead full story

Global consumption for use in glass, concrete and construction materials has tripled over two decades to reach 50 billion tonnes a year, or about 17 kilograms per person each day, it said, harming rivers and coastlines and even wiping out small islands.

“We now find ourselves in the position where the needs and expectations of our societies cannot be met without improved governance of sand resources,” Sheila Aggarwal-Khan, director of the Economy Division at UNEP said in the report’s foreword. “If we act now, it is still possible to avoid a sand crisis.”

UNEP’s Pascal Peduzzi who coordinated the report written by 22 authors said that some of the impacts of over-exploitation were already being felt. In the Mekong River – the longest in Southeast Asia -sand extraction was causing the delta to sink, leading to salinisation of previously fertile lands.

In a Sri Lankan river, sand removal had reversed the water flow, meaning that ocean water was heading inland and bringing salt-water crocodiles with it, he told journalists.

Demand is now seen as shifting to Africa where villagers often remove sand from beaches to build growing cities. In some cases, this can make coastlines more vulnerable to the impact of climate change, such as more powerful storms, the report said.

Among the report’s recommendations were a ban on beach extraction and the creation of an international standard for marine dredging that can harm ocean biodiversity.

It also called for reducing demand by reusing sand from recycled materials like concrete and mining tailings instead of using naturally occurring sand.

COMMENTS   0

You must be signed in and an Insider Gold subscriber to comment.

SUBSCRIBE NOW SIGN IN

LATEST CURRENCIES  

USD / ZAR
GBP / ZAR
EUR / ZAR
BTC / USD

SEARCH COMPANIES
Enter company name or share code:

ECONOMIC DATA  

  CPIThe Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures monthly changes in prices for a range of consumer products Apr 2022 5.90%
  CPI ex OERThe Consumer Price Index excluding Owners’ Equivalent Rent (CPI ex OER) measures monthly changes in prices for a range of consumer products excluding Owners’ equivalent rent that measures changes in the cost of owner-occupied housing Apr 2022 6.40%
  RepoThe rate at which the Reserve Bank lends money to the country’s commercial banks and set by the Reserve Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee. May 2022 4.25%
  Prime lendingThe Prime Lending Rate is the rate of interest that commercial banks will charge their clients when issuing a loan (home loan or vehicle finance) May 2022 7.75%

Instrument Details  

You do not have any portfolios, please create one here.
You do not have an alert portfolio, please create one here.
INSIDER SUBSCRIPTION APP VIDEOS RADIO / LISTEN LIVE SHOP OFFERS WEBINARS NEWSLETTERS TRENDING

Follow us: