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Resource availability

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Field of green Jowo small

Photo: Jowo

The availability of natural resources - energy, water, food, raw materials - has risen in our consciousness as a critical driver of future change. The World Bank estimates that 100 million people will be pushed back under the poverty line by the current spike in prices. Already a scarce resource in many parts of the world, demand pressures on water keep rising: the 'water footprint' of producing one kilo of beef is up to 15,500 litres of water, for one glass of wine it is 120 litres and agribusiness uses 70% of global freshwater. More frequent conflicts over water are a risk.

Governments are now looking for solutions, as exemplified in a new report 'Food Matters' to which Outsights recently contributed. The food story is shaped by many connecting forces, as we try to balance the solutions to carbon emissions (e.g. switching to biofuels) with the need to feed the increasing global population. If the next 'Green Revolution' can deliver less energy and water intensive agriculture, food may no longer be as scarce as anticipated today. The connections between resources and their links with other issues (growth, climate, technological change) puts resource availability at the heart of current scenario thinking, as in the recent 'Scenarios for the Global Economy to 2030'.

This is part of Outsights 21 Drivers for the 21st Century ™, a future-orientated scan of the 21 key forces shaping this century.

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