Business must recognise opportunities posed by resource scarcity and take lead in tackling challenges of global growth
The international business and finance community must take the lead in solving increasing water, food and energy scarcity around the world as population growth and economic development puts greater strains on the planet’s resources.
The call to action was issued today (Monday 23 April 2012) by Re|Source 2012, a new initiative created by the University of Oxford/Smith School of Enterprise and Environment and the Rothschild Foundation to tackle resource scarcity and highlight the business opportunities of sustainable management.
Re|Source co-director and Director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, Professor Sir David King said:
“The growing demand for food, energy and water by our growing and increasingly wealthy population is creating unprecedented pressures on our finite natural resources.
“The associated risks represent major opportunities for innovative business communities. Managing resources efficiently and effectively in a way that protects the environment and meets rising demand is the only productive way forward.”
Meeting resource scarcity with better management is now rising rapidly up the agenda for governments, investors and businesses alike, as well as environment leaders and organisations.
It has become a critical security issue for corporate leaders trying to ensure a reliable supply of water and energy to manufacture products and for governments concerned about energy or food supplies.
The world is expected to grow from seven billion people today to nine billion by 2050 – to meet this growth it will need to produce 70 per cent more food – which will place consequential demands on water and energy.
More than 40 of the world’s top 100 economies are companies. Only eight per cent of the world’s fresh water is used by individuals – the rest is used by agriculture and industry.
Sir David, continued:
“Managing issues arising from resource scarcity and management is one of the over-riding issues of the first half of the 21st century. This is not just a matter of empty threats and negativity.
“There are huge advantages and opportunities for business, finance and government in responsible resource management. Companies and investors can enjoy far greater returns and rewards by effective resource management.
“This can be a win-win for everyone if we can engage the financial, business and environmental communities together to tackle these issues.”
To help drive this change Re|Source is bringing together 250 of the world’s most influential thinkers and leaders at Oxford University in July to start a new conversation on managing natural resources, longer-term thinking and aligning people and profit.
They will address key questions including: how will resource scarcity and volatility affect political, business and military planning? How can the financial community change to encourage CEOs and investee companies rise to these global resource challenges? And how will capitalism evolve in a resource constrained world?
Key speakers include:
- Peter Brabeck, chairman of Nestle, world’s largest food company;
- Nobel Laureate economist Amartya Sen, one the world’s leading thinkers on sustainable food resourcing;
- James Cameron, internationally acclaimed film director, environmentalist and explorer;
- Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda;
- Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, minister of environment and water in Singapore;
- Rt Hon David Miliband MP, former UK foreign secretary;
- Jeremy Grantham, founder of GMO, one of the world’s biggest investment funds;
- Lord Browne, former CEO of BP energy and now partner of Riverstone Holdings LLC;
- David Nabarro, the UN’s Special Representative on Food Security and Nutrition;
- Plus senior military figures including Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, Climate and Energy Security Envoy of the UK Ministry of Defence and FCO, and high-ranking officials from NATO (to be confirmed).