Life is not possible without a sufficient supply of clean water. Water bodies provide people with drinking water and the industry with water, for example to manufacture goods. Water bodies are habitats for many plants and animals, thus contributing to biodiversity conservation. That is why we need to reconcile water conservation and use as much as possible.
Oceans contain 97 percent of the world’s water resources. They are rich in biodiversity and supply raw materials, food and active ingredients for medicine. They hold energy reserves, serve as transport routes and provide valuable areas for recreation. Germany is working intensively on transboundary and international solutions to marine conservation.
Waste prevention, re-use, recycling, recovery, disposal: this is what is referred to as waste hierarchy, the foundation of waste management in Germany. In the past, waste management was merely about waste disposal, but it has since been recognised that waste is a valuable resource which can be used effectively to conserve natural resources.
Natural resources are essential production factors and thus one of the pillars of our prosperity. At the same time, however, the use of raw materials negatively impacts the environment, ranging from emissions of greenhouse gases and pollutants into the air, water and soil to the impairment of ecosystems and biodiversity. This means that sustainable societies must have the capability to use natural resources responsibly and efficiently.
Soil is essential for the existence of humans, animals and plants. It supplies food and raw materials, stores and filters water and can break down contaminants. Soil provides land for residential areas, transport and recreation. Damage is almost impossible to repair in the short term as fertile soils are the result of slow physical, chemical and biological processes: it takes 200 to 300 years for one centimetre of soil to form.