NL-9 :: Resource efficiency

Many natural resources become scarce. There is a worldwide trend of increased consumption due to population increase and higher living standards. Because of these developments, sustainable use of resources (including land!) is high on the agenda in in the Netherlands as well as in Europe and the world (examples: UN Sustainability goals , Resource efficient Europe , Land as a resource , Circular Economy Strategy ).
The Dutch sub-surface supplies resources such as sand, gravel, clay, salt, oil and natural gas, soil and geothermal energy (see sustainable energy supply) and water (see water). The shallow extraction of resources (peat and brown coal in the past, currently still sand, clay and gravel) influence landscapes strongly. Extractions (shallow and deep extraction such as salt) also leave space that can be reused or redeveloped. Resource extractions highly influence the soil-sediment-water system and its ability to deliver ecosystem services . This asks for system knowledge. The changes in landscape and its effects need to be considered and mitigated.
Authorities on different levels focus on resource efficiency by investing in circular economy, the food, water, energy nexus and possibilities to facilitate the re-use of (secondary) building material (soil, sediment). Companies and industry incorporate their resource use in their long-term strategy by reducing the use of natural resources (re-use resources and technical innovations to lower in- and outputs). Moreover the dependencies of industries on their surroundings (especially water availability) are important factors determining the location of a business. The reuse of building materials is not only interesting for the building sector. The use of secondary building materials reduces waste production and avoids the use of natural resources. Making this cost-effective is the challenge.
The application of sediment a resource needs better regulation internationally. For sediment a short narrative was given.
Narrative: shortage of sediment – so what
Worldwide natural sediment transport is seriously obstructed by human interventions such as damming, river training, dredging and dike construction. Thus some sites are overloaded, while others experience a shortage. Excess of sediment hampers the transport function of river systems (both water and navigation). Moreover, reduction of drainage, results in risks of flooding.. Sediment shortage causes river bed incision and bank erosion, resulting in loss of land and undermining and collapsing of bridges and dikes. It also deteriorates fluvial ecosystems by draining and drying out floodplains and wetlands. Furthermore, delta’s, wetlands, lagoons and estuaries need sediment to be maintained. The following research question can be defined for this theme:
Demand: Describe the role of sediment in river systems and quantify the societal costs and benefits of the amount of sediment present in the system, taking into account cross boundary issues as well as costs and benefits for local communities
Why: This underpins the importance of this issue, i.e. provides the arguments to see sediment management as a true societal challenge.
Natural capital: Gain better insight in sediment related ecosystem services (ES) especially where they can help address societal challenges and thus to raise awareness of the key role that sediment plays (i.e. ES provided) for society.
Why: This is the key to raising awareness of the societal importance of sediment.
Impact: Improving the process understanding – and improvement of sharing of that understanding – of the connectivity of sediments between Land-Soil-Sediment-Water Systems and of the interaction of erosion, sediment transfer, deposition, remobilization and yield (i.e. sediment balance).
Why: The better we understand, share and exploit the available understanding of the functioning of natural river-delta-sea systems – and especially the role of sediments (balance) therein – the more effective our sediment equilibrium restoration measures will be.
Land management: Developing/testing/demonstrating 'Working-with-Nature' kind of solutions to get sediment from overloaded sites (such as reservoirs) to areas where there is a sediment shortage (or use for solving other societal challenges, like soil subsidence).
Why: This is probably one of the most urgent and rewarding challenges to address.
Specific research questions:
• What is the necessity of resource exploitation for the long term (future scenarios for use of resources taking into account self-sufficiency, geopolitical dependency, national and international scarcity, footprints, circular economy and transition to sustainable energy)?
• How do we contribute to reuse of materials / circular economy?
o Is a "material passport" effective? For what purposes? What to consider when designing materials for reuse?
o How can sediment and (fertile) soil be reused in a safe and cost-effective manner?
o What is the potential from landfill-mining and other waste products in the subsurface?
o What technological knowledge is required in the recovery of resources from waste and contaminated soil?

• What determines the choice of the use of primary and secondary materials in the construction and civil engineering sector?
o How can secondary building materials be better used (higher in the chain) to reduce mining of primary building materials?
o What secondary building materials are released in the future (eg by demolition) and what is their impact on the mining of primary building materials?
Natural capital
• What can the soil-sediment-water system and land use contribute to circular economy, where ecology and economy enhance each other eg. by closing cycles of soil and water?
• What is the sediment balance on different scales? Where are shortages and surpluses? What are the effects on society?
• How can the soil-sediment-water system contribute to lower the input of resources in an urban, industrial and agricultural setting?
Land management
• How do we make spatial trade-offs between different land uses (including extraction of resources) and how can the use of ecosystem services be optimized?
• How can we strengthen the landscape with, or share in revenues from resource exploitation?
• What decisions need to be taken in the soil-sediment-water system, land management and laws and regulation to better cope with sediment quality and quantity?
• How can we salt caverns be used in a safe way?
Net impacts
• What are interactions between soil-sediment-water system, landscape and resource exploitation?