Sand plays a strategic role in delivering ecosystem services, vital infrastructure for economic development, providing livelihoods within communities and maintaining biodiversity. It is linked to all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) either directly or indirectly. Despite the strategic importance of sand, its extraction, sourcing, use, and management remain largely ungoverned in many regions of the world, leading to numerous environmental and social consequences that have been largely overlooked.

At UNEA 4, the first Sand and Sustainability report (UNEP 2019) raised the awareness on this issue. Despite sand being the most used solid material - 50 billion tons per year, global attention about the sheer scale and impact of sand extraction remains limited. The UNEA 4 Resolution 19 on Mineral Resource Governance requested UNEP to further report on this issue.

“Sand and Sustainability : 10 Strategic Recommendations to Avert A Crisis” therefore consolidates the expertise in sand and sustainability from different sectors to bring attention to the impacts from the current state of extraction, use and (mis)management, putting forward recommendations for actions to set the global sand agenda in addressing environmental sustainability needs alongside justice, equity, technical, economic, and political considerations.

This report is instrumental to two resolutions at UNEA 5.2:
• Mineral Resource Governance (sand is the most extracted material in volume)
• Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure (infrastructure requires sand as a building material).

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