UN report warns of risks posed by ‘sand crisis’

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GENEVA (Reuters) – A UN report on Tuesday called for urgent action to avert a “sand crisis”, including a ban on beach mining, as demand hits 50 billion tonnes a day. year in a context of population growth and urbanization.

Sand is the world’s most exploited natural resource after water, but its use is largely unregulated, meaning we’re consuming it faster than it can be replaced by geological processes that take hundreds of thousands years, says the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) report.

Global consumption for the manufacture of glass, concrete and building materials has tripled in two decades to 50 billion tonnes per year, or about 17 kilograms per person per day, the report says, harming rivers and to the coasts, even annihilating the small islands.

“We find ourselves today in a situation where the needs and expectations of our societies cannot be met without better governance of sand resources,” said Sheila Aggarwal-Khan, director of UNEP’s economics division, in the foreword to the report.

Pascal Peduzzi, who coordinated the 22-authored report, said some of the impacts of overexploitation are already being felt. In the Mekong, Southeast Asia’s longest river, sand mining is causing the delta to sink, resulting in the salinization of previously fertile land.

Among the report’s recommendations are banning beach mining and creating an international standard for marine dredging that can harm ocean biodiversity.

He also advocates reducing demand by reusing sand from recycled materials like concrete and mine tailings instead of using natural sand.

(Report Emma Farge, French version Augustin Turpin, edited by Kate Entringer)

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