Sustainable Sand

Chatham House is helping an international project influence policy agendas around the regulation and sustainability of sand supply chains.

Sand used as aggregate forms an essential and finite resource.  Growing demand for construction – buildings and infrastructure, creating land through reclamation, and coastal protection from climate change – has resulted in supply pressures on traditional sources. 

Unmanaged extraction is an emerging and locally significant problem around the world. The issue has the potential to cause wide-ranging social, economic and environmental impacts including:

  • Pollution;
  • Land erosion;
  • Changing water flows;
  • Reduction of biodiversity;
  • Damage to infrastructure;
  • Degradation of habits and impacts on vulnerable communities.

The project uses satellite data, machine-learning technology and in-country knowledge to gain an understanding of the current extraction sites, scale, transportation routes and environmental impacts for sand, helping the Kenyan government identify better strategies for the sustainable management of the resource.

Chatham House is policy lead for the project, working with the Kenyan government, Pixalytics Ltd and partners including:

  • Nairobi Design Institute
  • NIRAS Africa
  • Satellite Applications Catapult
  • The University of Plymouth
  • The British Geological Survey

Read more about sand mining and sustainability at the Hoffman Centre.