Initiatives in National and Intergovernmental Activities, Focusing on Policy Application of Economy-Wide MFA Indicators

Institutional aspects of progress in international MFA studies were reviewed by Moriguchi (2007), focusing on developments in Japan and in international fora such as within the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Experts in industrial ecology, including the authors of this chapter themselves, have played catalytic role in linking industrial ecology studies and their applications to national and international policies for sustainable resource and waste management. A typical example of the outcomes from these international activities is the OECD three-volume guidelines focusing on economy-wide MFA (OECD 2008), published when OECD and UNEP coorganized a Conference on Resource Efficiency in 2008.

Fischer-Kowalski et al. (2011) reviewed the state-of-the-art and reliability of MFA data across different sources. They concluded that the MFA framework and the data generated have reached a maturity that warrants MF indicators to complement traditional economic and demographic information in providing a sound basis for discussing national and international policies for sustainable resource use. International comparison of a few economy-wide MFA indicators (Bringezu et al. 2004), cross country comparisons of economy-wide MFA within the EU (Weisz et al. 2006) as well as country case studies such as in an EU accession country (Kovanda et al. 2010) have been conducted. There has been much criticism against using simplistic summation of different materials by mass as an indicator. Van der Voet et al. (2005) added a set of environmental weights to the flows of the materials to calculate indicators with differentiated environmental impact. Another key argument is accounting for indirect material requirement associated with processed materials and products. The “raw material equivalents” (RME) metric of material consumption addresses the issue of including the full supply chain (including imports) when calculating national or product level material impacts (Muñoz et al. 2009; Schor et al. 2013).

Aoki-Suzuki et al. (2012) conducted a study of how economy-wide MFA indicators are used in a number of developed countries, including analysis of the commonalities between countries that are actively using these indicators in policy, and a survey of the current capacity for economy-wide MFA in developing countries, including data availability and policy uptake.

 
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