Fears grow over resource scarcity

14 November 2012
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14 November 2012 | Adam Leach

Fears over securing natural resources have increased over the past 12 months and the issue is now the fourth biggest concern facing the global economy, according to a report.

In the latest edition of the Global Agenda Survey, published yesterday by the World Economic Forum (WEF), the issue rose up the list of topics causing most concern for panellists from seventh last year.

But while the 850 respondents - drawn from experts in a range of fields - clearly see it as a major issue, opinion was divided whether the problem is being taken too seriously or not seriously enough. It was identified both as the most underestimated problem by the panellists, but also as the fifth most overestimated concern.

It also found there is far more concern from businesses (21.8 per cent) regarding resource scarcity than from governments (11.6 per cent).

Stephen D'Esposito, president of Resolve - the US collaborative problem-solving organisation - and author of the chapter on resource scarcity, argued companies need to factor in the growing threat of scarce resources into their supply strategies.

“The notion of responsible extraction, or sourcing, should be embedded in the concept of stability and growth in supply as a response to scarcity,” he said.

Social and political unrest was identified as the biggest consequence of resource scarcity, with price volatility the second largest. But a number of seemingly positive consequences were also identified, such as increasing momentum for sustainable development and driving research into green technology.

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