Climate and resource security

Megatrends

Available in 中文 (Chinese)

The climate and resource security megatrend captures the increasing pressure on critical resources within the mega-ecological narrative of climate change.

By mid-century demand for food and water will place these resources under stress. We will need to produce 60 – 100% percent more food and 5 billion people could be facing a critical lack of water. The world’s fish stock is being pushed towards collapse – at the current rate, 88% of stock will be over-fished by 2050. This unprecedented demand on the earth’s resources is unfolding against the bigger story of global climate change.

We are witnessing unstoppable bushfires and smoke-filled cities. Glaciers and islands are disappearing. Tropical archipelagos are increasingly lashed by intense monsoon storms. Climate change is not a prediction, it is our new normal. Prolonged droughts, rising sea levels and more frequent severe weather events threaten to make more areas unliveable displacing many millions of people from their home. Climate disruption is also accelerating global biodiversity crisis, threatening 1 million species to the brink of extinction.

This megatrend contains the “environmentalist’s paradox”: the more we deplete our resources and degrade our ecosystems, the more average human well-being improves globally. But how long can we sustain rising consumption in the face of ecosystem degradation that is also increasingly global?

By 2050 demand for energy will increase by 30% above current global use. Technological and market innovations are racing to unlock the promise of renewable energy. With innovations like battery storage, solar and wind technologies, we are creating the potential to rethink energy production and revolutionise how consumers access energy. More than 60 rare metals are critical for renewable technologies, batteries, electric and hybrid cars, smartphones and tablets. However, increasing demand and the rare nature of such materials could severely limit the continued production of new technologies.

Corporations are principal agents in the production of greenhouse gas and can no longer ignore the trade-off between economic and environmental well-being. It is no longer possible to continue with business as usual, but as capitalism depends on consuming the natural environment to ensure continual economic growth, how can business and governments respond to the challenge of our time?

Climate and resource security infographic

References

Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, 2019. Water Scarcity – one of the greatest challenges of our time. Available at: http://www.fao.org/fao-stories/article/en/c/1185405/

The United Nations World Water Development Report 2018, Nature-Based Solutions for Water, UNESCO. Available at: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000261424

UN News, (March 19, 2018) UN spotlights rainwater recycling, artificial wetlands among ‘green’ solutions to global water crisis. Available at:
https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/03/1005332

Watts, J. (March 19, 2018).  Water Shortages Could affect 5bn people by 2050. The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/19/water-shortages-could-affect-5bn-people-by-2050-un-report-warns

World Economic Forum, 2019, Water scarcity is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Available at: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/03/water-scarcity-one-of-the-greatest-challenges-of-our-time

WWAP (UNESCO World Water Assessment Program).  2019. The United Nations World Water Development Report 2019: Leaving No One Behind. Paris, UNESCO. Available at: https://en.unesco.org/themes/water-security/wwap/wwdr/2019

Alexandratos, N. and Bruinsma, J. (2012).  World agriculture towards 2030/2050: the 2012 revision. ESA Working paper no. 12-03 Rome, FAO. Available at: http://www.fao.org/3/ap106e/ap106e.pdf

Colombo, B. et al. Food Matters, Is there enough food for the future? Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota, Environment Reports. Available at: http://www.environmentreports.com/enough-food-for-the-future/

Elferink, M. and Schierhorn, F. (April 7, 2016). Global Demand for Food is Rising. Can We Meet It? HBR. Available at: https://hbr.org/2016/04/global-demand-for-food-is-rising-can-we-meet-it

FAO, 2018, The future of food and agriculture – Alternative pathways to 2050, Rome. Available at: http://www.fao.org/3/I8429EN/i8429en.pdf

High Level Expert Forum, (October 2009). How to Feed the World 2050, Global agriculture towards 2050. Office of the Director, Agricultural Development Economics Division Economic and Social Development Department, Rome, Italy. Available at: http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/wsfs/docs/Issues_papers/HLEF2050_Global_Agriculture.pdf

Ranganathan, J., Waite, R., Searchinger, T. and Hanson, C. (December 5, 2018). How to Sustainably Feed 10 Billion People by 2050, in 21 Charts.  World Resources Institute.  Available at: https://www.wri.org/blog/2018/12/how-sustainably-feed-10-billion-people-2050-21-charts

Valin, H. et al. (December 10, 2013). The future of food demand: understanding differences in global economic models. Agricultural Economics. Available at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/agec.12089

WWAP (UNESCO World Water Assessment Program).  2019. The United Nations World Water Development Report 2019: Leaving No One Behind. Paris, UNESCO. Available at: https://en.unesco.org/themes/water-security/wwap/wwdr/2019

Church, J. and Clark, P. (2013). Sea Level Change. In: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. Available at: https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/WG1AR5_Chapter13_FINAL.pdf

FAO. 2018.  The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2018 – Meeting the sustainable development goals. Available at: http://www.fao.org/3/I9540EN/i9540en.pdf

Hoegh-Guldberg, O., R. Cai, E.S. Poloczanska, P.G. Brewer, S. Sundby, K. Hilmi, V.J. Fabry, and S. Jung,. (2014). The Ocean. In: Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part B: Regional Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, pp. 1655-1731.

Kituyi, M. and Thomson, P. (July 2018). 90% of fish stocks are used up – fisheries subsidies must stop emptying the ocean. Global Risks Report 2020, World Economic Forum. Available at: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/07/fish-stocks-are-used-up-fisheries-subsidies-must-stop/

Worm, B. (April 2016). Averting a global fisheries disaster. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Available at: https://www.pnas.org/content/113/18/4895

Collins, M. and Knutti, R (lead authors). (2013). Long-term Climate Change: Projections, Commitments and Irreversibility. In Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press. Available at: https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/WG1AR5_Chapter12_FINAL.pdf

Wright, C. and Nyberg, D. (2015). Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations: Processes of Creative Self-Destruction. Cambridge University Press.

IPCC. (2014). Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report Summary for Policy Makers. In Fifth Assessment Report. Available at: https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/AR5_SYR_FINAL_SPM.pdf

IPCC. (2019). Summary for Policymakers. In: IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate. Available at: https://report.ipcc.ch/srocc/pdf/SROCC_FinalDraft_FullReport.pdf

UN Report. (May 2019). Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’; Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’. Available at: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2019/05/nature-decline-unprecedented-report/

Collins, M. and Knutti, R (lead authors). (2013). Long-term Climate Change: Projections, Commitments and Irreversibility. In Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press. Available at: https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/WG1AR5_Chapter12_FINAL.pdf

IPCC. (2019). Summary for Policymakers. In: IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate. Available at: https://report.ipcc.ch/srocc/pdf/SROCC_FinalDraft_FullReport.pdf

Laczko, F. and Aghazarm,C. (2009) Migration, Environment and Climate Change: Assessing the Evidence. International Organization for Migration. Geneva, Switzerland. Available at: https://publications.iom.int/system/files/pdf/migration_and_environment.pdf

The World Bank, (March 2019). Groundswell: Preparing for internal climate migration. Available at: https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/infographic/2018/03/19/groundswell—preparing-for-internal-climate-migration

What are megatrends and how they are shaping the future of business?

Impactful Technology
Demographic change
Rapid urbanisation
Amplified individuals
Economic power shift
Climate and resource security

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The future of food

In 2018 we looked at the future of food from the soil it will grow in to the spectre of a global shortage in just 10 years. So much food for thought.

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