The U.N. Environment Program said the region accounts for more than half of the world's total resource use, mainly because it has more than half the world's population and nearly 30 percent of its gross domestic product, the United Nations said in a release.
The report, released Monday in Beijing by the U.N. unit and its partners, estimates that per capita resource consumption in the region must be about 80 percent less than it is now to achieve sustainable development.
In 2005 alone, total materials consumed -- including biomass, fossil fuels, metals and industrial and construction materials -- was about 32 billion tons, the report said.
If left unchecked, the consumption rate could rise to 80 billion tons by 2050, the report said.
The report calls for a region-wide effort to improve efficiency backed by smart public policy measures, including policies such as ecological taxes and budget reforms.
Achim Steiner, U.N. Environment Program executive director, said dramatic economic growth in the region has lifted more than a half-billion people out of poverty, but with "profound" social and environmental consequences.
"This new report spotlights the challenges but also the opportunities for a transition to a low carbon, far more resource efficient green economy not as an alternative to sustainable development but as a means of implementing it," Steiner said.
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