It’s global resource security, stupid

By Raimund Bleischwitz, on 19 September 2013

Yesterday I attended the Global Futures Forum in Stockholm. The forum is a community of international intelligence officials from the US, Sweden, and a number of other countries. Its central theme was Natural Resources, Economics and Geopolitics: Eurasian Interdependencies with Global Security Implications“.

Some 50 experts gathered to discuss the new security beat surrounding price peaks, China’s involvement in most commodity markets, and the potential game changes stemming from unconventional fossil fuel deployment in Northern America. The US Ambassador to Sweden, Mark Brzezinski, made an opening keynote. It was followed by discussions on the Arctic, South Asia and Central Asia, and the increasing Chinese presence along crucial shipping lanes. A huge effort was given to developing scenarios on how the world of commodities might look like in the year 2030, and what short-term issues ought to be encountered. As usual, the diversity of forecasting storylines was overwhelming.

Europe will be challenged to take the resource nexus more seriously, i.e. the interconnections across resources and the international security ramifications. Will the European project become disintegrated due to the Euro crisis and regionalisation; will it narrowly focus on internal resource efficiency strategies while the external dimension will be left to companies struggling for access to raw materials? We don’t know yet – but there’s certainly a need to come to terms with the security dimension of global sustainable resources, in addition to the environmental and the economic dimensions.