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California
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19.3 ° C
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Friday, May 20, 2022

UN environment body seeks ban on extraction of sand from beaches, pitches for alternatives | India News


NEW DELHI: Fifty billion tons of sand and gravel, enough to build a wall 27 metres wide and 27 metres high around planet Earth, are used annually across the globe, making it the second most used resource worldwide after water, said the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on Tuesday while underlining the need of its judicious use as it plays an important role in delivering ecosystem services and maintaining biodiversity.
In its special report on ‘sand and sustainability, the UN body said sand must be recognised as a “strategic resource” and its extraction and use need to be rethought, given its dependency on this crucial construction material.
Pitching for sustainable use of sand, the report, released in Geneva, flagged several suggestions including a ban on extraction of sand from beaches due to its importance for coastal resilience, framing an international standard on how sand is extracted from the marine environment, and developing new institutional and legal structures for sand to be more effectively governed.
Since extracting sand from rivers and coastal or marine ecosystems can lead to erosion, salinization of aquifers, loss of protection against storm surges and affect overall biodiversity, the authors of the report expressed concerns over its indiscriminate extraction and noted how it would pose a threat to livelihoods, water supply, food production, fisheries and tourism industry.
“To achieve sustainable development, we need to drastically change the way we produce, build and consume products, infrastructures and services. Our sand resources are not infinite, and we need to use them wisely. If we can get a grip on how to manage the most extracted solid material in the world, we can avert a crisis and move toward a circular economy,” said Pascal Peduzzi, overall programme coordinator for the report.
The report also spoke about viable alternatives to sand and cited many examples from across the globe including India where start-ups are using paddy stubble to develop alternative construction materials. It flagged how GreenJams produces Agrocrete, a building material made of crop residues and a proprietary binder made from industrial by-products.
Similarly, Structure Eco produces AgriBioPanelsTM, made of more than 90% straw and a proprietary binding adhesive. The panels are suitable for a wide variety of applications, mitigate natural resource depletion, and prevent air pollution, while building a value chain supporting farmers’ livelihoods.
Flagging many such alternatives, the authors of the report noted that solutions exist for moving towards a circular economy for sand, including banning the landfilling of mineral waste and encouraging sand to be reused in public procurement contracts. “Crushed rock or recycled construction and demolition material, as well as ‘ore-sand’ from mine tailings, are among the viable alternatives to sand that should also be incentivised, the report details,” they said.

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