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Framing sand sustainability in a telecoupled world

Framing sand sustainability in a telecoupled world


Global raw material extraction grew by 94% between 1980 and 2010 to reach a total of 70 Bt per year in 2010, and is predicted to reach 100 Bt by 2030. Sand and gravel are the most extracted group of materials worldwide. The construction industry is behind this huge demand. Sand is critical for concrete, land-reclamation projects or combating coastal erosion. Despite enormous advances being made to understand and quantify the footprint of human infrastructure, the “off-site” impacts derived from the provision of construction minerals are largely ignored. An ever-increasing demand for these resources is putting more and more strain on limited deposits, which has led to conflicts around the world and will likely lead to a “tragedy of the sand commons” if sustainable mining cannot be achieved. The project aims to understand how an increasing demand for sand affects complex human-nature dynamics and connects with environmental and sustainability challenges through mining, transportation, trade and consumption. I will apply and operationalize a systems integration approach, the telecoupling framework, and conduct studies at multiple scales to strengthen the knowledge base and contribute to develop possible pathways into a sustainable management and governance of construction minerals. This research will combine research methods such as evidence synthesis, material flow analysis and agent-based modeling. The research is proposed as a 3-year GF. MSU will be my host during the outgoing phase in USA and I will be hosted at UCL in Belgium during the third year. The MSCA will allow me to consolidate my transition to this field and become a pioneer in the application of an integrated perspective to address the environmental and socioeconomic interlinkages resulting from sand supply and demand. This research has great potential for scientific advancement and it will open up the best career possibilities for my career and new collaboration opportunities for the host organisations.
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Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 248 425,92

Partners (1)

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Project information

Grant agreement ID: 846474


Grant agreement signed

  • Start date

    2 September 2019

  • End date

    1 September 2022

Funded under:


  • Overall budget:

    € 248 425,92

  • EU contribution

    € 248 425,92

Coordinated by: