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Warning over beach erosion, flooding and drought amid rising sand use

A UN agency has warned about the overuse of sand resources.

A three-fold increase in demand over the last 20 years amid increasing population, urbanisation and building work has contributed to beach erosion, flooding and drought, according to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

The UNEP report urged a rethink about the use of the world's second-most extracted resource, after water, by industry, governments and the public.

It said demand for sand and gravel amounts to 40-50 billion tons every year, and pointed to the need for conservation, recycling and a look for alternatives such as sawdust.

Pascal Peduzzi, director of a UNEP programme with the University of Geneva, said more thought needs to be taken: "We aren't very smart about how we use sand, because we think: This is just sand."

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