SANDGEM

A global agenda for sand

Sand and gravel are being extracted faster than they can be replaced. We need to manage this resource to protect rivers and avoid the world running out.

 
 

Sand is a key ingredient in the recipe of modern life, and yet it might be our most overlooked natural resource. Rapid urbanization and global population growth have fueled the demand for sand and gravel, with between 32 and 50 billion tonne extracted globally each year. Consequently, we are now starting to exhaust a resource that many people often consider infinite. 

 

From 2000-2100 it is projected there will be a 300% increase in sand demand and 400% increase in prices

 
 

A lack of oversight and monitoring is leading to unsustainable exploitation, planning and trade. Removal of sand from rivers and beaches has far-reaching impacts on ecology, infrastructure, national economies and the livelihoods of the 3 billion people who live along the world’s river corridors.

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Illegal sand mining is documented in 70 countries across the globe, and battles over sand have reportedly killed hundreds in recent years, including local citizens, police officers and government officials.

The rapidity of the effects of alluvial gravel and sand mining: Eight years of increasing mining activities on part of the Wah Umngi River, northern Bangladesh. Images courtesy Google Earth.

The rapidity of the effects of alluvial gravel and sand mining: Eight years of increasing mining activities on part of the Wah Umngi River, northern Bangladesh. Images courtesy Google Earth.

 
 

WE NEED A GLOBAL AGENDA FOR SAND

 
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We urgently require a monitoring program to address the current data and knowledge gap, and thus fully assess the magnitude of sand scarcity. It is up to the scientific community, governments and policy makers to take the steps needed to make this happen. 

Seven components are essential within a global agenda for sustainable sand extraction.

 
 
 

Sources Alternatives Novel reuse Design Governance Education Monitoring

 
 

 

Read the full pledge in Nature:

Time is running out for sand

Mette Bendixen, Jim BestChris Hackney, and Lars L. Iversen

Doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-02042-4

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