The UN’s environment programme, UNEP, launched that warned about the overuse of sand resources.

According to the report, a spike in demand over the last 20 years has come about due to an increase in population, urbanisation, and large construction projects have contributed to beach erosion, flooding, and drought.

“We aren’t very smart about how we use sand, because we think that it is just sand,” said Pascal Peduzzi, director of a UNEP program with the University of Geneva. According to the report, the demand for sand and gravel amounts to 40-50 billion tonnes every year.

The UNEP pointed to the need for conservation and recycling, as well as moving to alternatives like sawdust.

The report was produced through expert dialogue at a roundtable event in October 2018, facilitated by UNEP/GRID-Geneva and the University of Geneva.