World Resources Forum

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The World Resources Forum (WRF) is a non-profit organisation for sharing knowledge about the economic, political, social and environmental implications of global resource use. WRF promotes resource productivity among researchers, policymakers, business, NGOs and the public. The WRF Conference is a series of conferences on global resources issues, formerly known as R-conferences (Recycling, Reducing, Re-using), organised since 1993. The WRF provides information about natural resources, trends and limitations in use and production, and serves as a platform on which to discuss their economic and political implications. The WRF is directed at academics, politicians, research-oriented practitioners, entrepreneurs, consultants and other professionals in the areas of sustainable development.


The WRF brings the issues of global resource consumption and resource productivity higher on the agenda of policymakers and business leaders. Aspects covered by the WRF include the scarcity and security of supply as well as the price risks of key resources. The issues of pollution and energy use over the life-cycle of certain resources but also their social impact – in particular in developing countries – are topics examined by the WRF as well.

The WRF is set up as an association, with a General Assembly and Board. The WRF Secretariat, based in St. Gallen, Switzerland, is responsible for the coordination and organisation of the following activities:

  • Flagship activity is the organisation of the annual WRF Conference, which usually takes place in the fall and brings together science, research, policymakers and industry. The programme usually includes a series of high-level keynotes, parallel sessions and targeted workshops as well as special side events. Apart from the regular media reports are regularly being written by Student Reporters.[1] In 2011 the Conference was held in Davos, Switzerland, and had over 400 participants from more than 40 countries. In 2012 it was held in Beijing from October 21–23, 2012, and attracted over 700 participants from 50 countries. WRF 2013 was held in Davos, Switzerland, from 7–9 October 2013, attracting over 400 participants from 53 countries. WRF 2014 was held in Arequipa, Peru, 19–22 October 2014, and attracted over 1,000 participants from 40 countries. WRF Asia-Pacific 2015 was held in Sydney, Australia, June 1–3, 2015, and attracted some 300 participants. WRF 2015 was held in Davos, Switzerland, October 11–14, 2015, with over 600 participants coming from 108 countries.
  • Awareness raising about global resource issues is achieved through the conferences and by the dissemination of their results. These are voiced in other fora such as the Rio+20 Earth Summit and publications. The Association also uses social media to engage the larger public.
  • As an inter-link between research, industry and policymaking, the WRF emphasises the facilitation of networking in order to optimise the transfer of knowledge between the different stakeholders. For that purpose, special events are organised and connections to key leaders can be established through the WRF Secretariat.
  • The WRF capacity building activities include, for instance, supporting the participation of scientists from developing countries and of young people (for example the youth programme of the 2011 WRF Conference)[2] and Kids and yWRF program of WRF 2013 [1]

Founding members are the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN)[3] the Swiss interdisciplinary research institution and service provider for materials science and technology (Empa)[4] the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) International Resource Panel,[5] Hewlett-Packard (HP),[6] and the city of St. Gallen.[7]

Other members include the German Federal Environment Agency, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences (A+).,[8] the Rhomberg Group, the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), the Mercator Foundation Switzerland, the Association for Quality and Management Systems (SQS) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).[9]

WRF 2015[edit]

World Resources Forum 2015 was held in Davos, Switzerland, from 11–14 October 2015, and had over 600 participants coming from 108 countries.

Topics WRF 2015[edit]

  1. Circular Economy and Decoupling
  2. Technological innovation, business and finance
  3. Targets, indicators, and benchmarks for resource use
  4. Lifestyles and education

WRF Asia-Pacific 2015[edit]

World Resources Forum Asia-Pacific was held in Sydney, Australia, from 1–3 June 2015, and attracted close to 300 participants.

Topics WRF Asia-Pacific 2015[edit]

  1. Resource Productivity in the Asia-Pacific
  2. Transition Pathways and Radical Innovation
  3. International Sustainability

Plenary Sessions[edit]

  1. The Resource Revolution
  2. Trends in Australia and the Asia Pacific
  3. Dimensions of Resource Productivity
  4. Transition Pathways
  5. Radical Innovations


  1. Industrial Symbiosis in the Asia-Pacific
  2. Zero Waste and Community Benefits
  3. Business Models for a Circular World
  4. Key Enablers - Technology and Financing
  5. Future Earth; Resourcing Future Generations
  6. Is Australia ready for the Circular Economy
  7. Investment Decision Making for an Energy Productive Australia
  8. Resource Governance, Geopolitics & Social Responsibility: the case of Phosphorus
  9. Wealth from Waste: Transition Pathways for unlocking the Value of Urban Ores
  10. Future Metals
  11. Transition Pathways for Carbon-Based Energy and Materials
  12. The Case for Material Efficiency
  13. De-Growth
  14. New Business Models in Waste with the Rise of Social Enterprise
  15. Circular Thinking

WRF 2014[edit]

World Resources Forum 2014 was held in Arequipa, Peru, from 19–22 October 2014 and attracted over 1,000 participants coming from 40 countries and international organisations. The meeting report was published in April 2015.[10]

Topics of WRF 2014[edit]

  1. Innovation for Resource Efficiency
  2. Policies and Stakeholders Participation
  3. Decoupling Economic Growth and Natural Resource Use
  4. Recycling Industries and Cities
  5. Measuring Progress - Targets and Indicators
  6. Lifestyle and Education
  7. Forestry, Climate Change Mitigation and Adaption

Plenary Sessions at WRF 2014[edit]

  1. WRF Parade
  2. Connecting Brilliant Ideas to People with Power
  3. Doing Business with Less
  4. Consuming for More

Workshops at WRF 2014[edit]

  1. UBA (German Federal Environment Agency) & SERI (European Research Institute)- where is a Safe Operating Space?
  2. SATW (Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences)- Circular Economy- Improving the Management of Natural Resources
  3. UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization) - Eco Industrial Parks: Taking Industrial Resource Efficiency and Sustainable Production to Scale
  4. Libélula - Towards a Low-Carbon Development in Peru to 2050: Lessons learnt from PlanCC project
  5. SITRA (The Finnish Innovation Fund) - Showcasing Resource Wisdom in Cities
  6. MINAM (Ministry of Environment Peru), IDB (Inter-American Development Bank) & JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) - Solid Waste Program
  7. SRI (Sustainable Recycling Industries) & UNIDO - Sustainable Recycling Industries for Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment in Latin American Countries
  8. MINAM - Agriculture of the Future
  9. Zero Waste - Zero Waste Approach to Managing Resources
  10. UBA, Arlene & SERI - Common Goods- to Whom do our Natural Resources Belong?
  11. MINAM & BGI (Better Gold Initiative) - Responsible Gold Mining
  12. OAS (Organization of American States) - Transitioning toward Circular Economy through the Application of Closed Looped Cycle Production: Methods and Principles
  13. UNIDO & UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) - Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production for Climate Action in Small and Medium Sized Enterprises: examples from Latin America
  14. ELECTROPERU & Petrames - Renewable Energies: Success Stories from Peru
  15. SAGW (Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences), CDE (Centre of Development and Environment) & University of Bern - The Social Dimension of Sustainability - Environmental Justice and the Governance of Global Resources
  16. UNEP - A Dialogue on Decoupling Strategies for Sustainable Development: How to make it happen?
  17. OVI (Observatorio Vulcanologico INGEMMET) - Studies of Climate Change on Glaciers of Coropuna Volcano- Arequipa an the Project Cryoperu

WRF 2013[edit]

World Resources Forum 2013 was held in Davos, Switzerland, October 6–9, 2013 and attracted over 400 participants from 53 countries and international organisations. The meeting report WRF 2013 was published in April 2014.[11]

Topics of WRF 2013[edit]

  1. Resource Efficiency and Governance
  2. Sustainable Business and Industry
  3. Sustainable Cities and Infrastructure
  4. Lifestyles and Education

Plenary Sessions at WRF 2013[edit]

  1. The WRF Parade
  2. Resource Governance Panel
  3. Sustainable Innovation Business Panel
  4. Lifestyle and Education Panel

Workshops WRF 2013[edit]

  1. Club of Rome and Global Footprint Network- Plundering the Planet with Ernst-Ulrich von Weizsäcker, Anders Wijkman, Ugo Bardi and Alessandro Galli
  2. UBA (German Federal Agency on Environment)- Global targets for a sustainable resource use (1); Resource Efficiency in Europe (2)
  3. Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI)- Biofuels from Algae
  4. Empa- Sustainable Recycling Industries
  5. Technopolis, SERI, Wuppertal Institute- Eco-Innovation Observatory
  6. FOEN, SOFIES, ERA NET ECO-INNOVERA- Tools and software for eco-industrial development and sustainable resource management
  7. SAGW, University of Basel- Governance of Transition to Sustainable Growth
  8. TNO, Wuppertal Institute, UCL-ISR -New concepts, indicators and policies for RE
  9. UNEPInternational Resource Panel- Sustainable Management of Metal Resources
  10. Foundation Rare Metals/Council for Less Common Elements- Metallic Based Resources and Energy Applications
  11. Koli Forum- Towards Resource Wisdom
  12. Student Reporters- Journalism and media strategies for environmental sustainability
  13. Liter of Light
  14. oikos Consulting - Sustainability for SMEs
  15. SAGW, SAGUF- Role of Social Science
  16. Zero Waste International Alliance- Zero Waste Approach to Managing Resources
  17. IGES, GRF-SPAC, Tellus Institute- Reductions Project
  18. We-Act and South Pole Carbon- Using gamification for tackling sustainability issues

WRF 2012[edit]

World Resources Forum 2012 was held from October 21–23 at the China National Convention Center in Beijing, China, and attracted over 700 participants. Main theme of this forum, co-organised with the Chinese Academy of Sciences/Institute of Process Engineering, was Resources and Green Economy.[12] The meeting report was published in April 2013.[13]

Topics of WRF 2012[edit]

  1. Green and Circular Economy
  2. National and Regional Approaches
  3. Metal and Mineral Resources
  4. Crude Oil and Natural Gas
  5. Clean Coal Technologies
  6. Renewable Energy (Solar, Wind, Tide, Geothermal etc.)
  7. Food and Biomass
  8. Green Process Engineering and Technologies
  9. Waste/Material Recovery and Recycling
  10. Alternative Business Models and Socio-Economic Issues
  11. Policy and Education
  12. Nano Green Energy

Workshops WRF 2012[edit]

  1. Sustainable Industry - Sustainable Management of Forest Resources and Wood Constructions (Koli Forum, Finland)
  2. Resource Efficiency Strategies in Europe – EU Roadmap and National Implementation (German Federal Environmental Agency, Germany)
  3. Urban Eco-Efficiency Lab - Cities, Biodiversity and Ecosystems (WRF/Convention on Biological Diversity)
  4. Special Briefing on UNEP‘s latest findings in Resource Efficiency (UNEP)
  5. Upscaling Mechanisms for Sustainable Consumption and Production – Achievements and Lessons learnt in the SWITCH-Asia Programme (UNEP/Wuppertal Institute Collaborating Centre for Sustainable Consumption and Production, Germany)
  6. Urban Mining, Challenges and Opportunities (Empa, Switzerland)
  7. Circular Economy (CAS)
  8. When will they start listening to us? (Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences/WRF, Switzerland)
  9. Balancing Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Consumption and Production in Asia and the Pacific – Challenges for Policy, Research and Practice (Global Research Forum on Sustainable Production and Consumption, USA)

WRF 2011[edit]

More than 400 participants from over 40 countries and international organisations attended the World Resources Forum 2011 in Davos, Switzerland, from 19–21 September 2011, and exchanged their views and perspectives on best practices, policy options and research on natural resource management and promoting and implementing a Green Economy. Results were documented in a chairman's summary, meeting report [2] and were submitted to the Rio+20 Earth Summit's compilation document,[14] as well as other stakeholders, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF).[15] The Swiss government adopted the recommendations and integrated these in their statements in Rio.[16]

Topics of Interest[edit]

  • Security of Supply: Peak minerals, Scarcity of metals and minerals, Environmental and social burden of resource extraction, Resource extraction and socio-political conflicts, Recycling of important material flows, Secondary resources
  • Growth, Innovation, Decoupling, Efficiency and Sufficiency: Supply chain management, Regional and global material flows, Efficiency of processes and manufacturing, Dematerialization, Low Carbon Society, Green economy, Circular economy, Resources and greenhouse gas emissions, Best practice examples and case studies
  • Assessment Methods, Resource Use Indicators and Targets: Life cycle analysis, Ecological footprint, Grey energy, Carbon footprint, other Greenhouse-gas-related indicators, Water footprint, Soil-related indicators, Material flow indicators and (per-capita) targets, Standards
  • The Social Dimension of Resources: Welfare of countries, New economic approaches beyond growth, Values and lifestyles, Consumer behavior, Social LCA, Sustainability assessment, Sustainable consumption, North/South context, Industrializing countries
  • Communication and Education: Information systems, Product information, Youth involvement, Awareness for resource limits and sustainable resource management, Workplace training, Outreach

WRF 2009[edit]

The R'09 conference on resource management and technology for material and energy efficiency was run simultaneously in Davos and Nagoya from 14 to 16 September 2009. The main goal of the ninth event in the R' World Congress series was to promote technologies and frameworks for enhancing the material and energy efficiency of products, services and processes (from production and use to recycling), including developing sustainable solutions for tackling the growing mountain of e-waste. The conference was organized by Empa in cooperation with the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences (SATW), the EcoTopia Science Institute of the University of Nagoya, and the Factor 10 Institute. For the first time, that year's conference was followed by the World Resource Forum (WRF), where politicians and scientists had the opportunity to discuss new economic frameworks promoting the sustainable use of resources. The innovative two site conference concept saved considerable amounts of CO2, so the conclusion of a scientific paper, published in Elsevier's Telematics and Informatics Journal[17]

At the Davos meeting, WRF attendees adopted a declaration that calls for western economies to massively reduce their material inputs and for the world to dramatically increase resource productivity. They also agreed that, because the price of natural resources is low compared to that of labour, industry will not purposely drive those changes. Only governments can provide the necessary framework and incentives.


External links[edit]