Resource Curse Redux: Linking Food and Water Stress with Global Resource Supply Vulnerabilities


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Crisis, what crisis?

Malnutrition: following the observations about the pressing local and national urgency of any food and water crisis, one may consider malnutrition as an entry point for socio-economic and political impacts. Migration: beyond general issues, this is a key social issue arising during and after the time when a mine is constructed.

Humphreys [ 20 ] calls it one of the grievance mechanisms. Rudra and Jensen [ 47 ] and Bearce and Laks Hutnick [ 48 ] provide new insights on the nexus between migration and natural resources. Fundamentalism and Terrorism: some regions may adopt anti-Western attitudes, in particular, if their national government appears to cooperate with them. Natural resources could provide a way to finance rebellions that have been started for other reasons and may extend the duration of civil wars; [see, e. Secessionism: this is estimated to be the biggest source of violent conflicts according to the conflict barometer according to the conflict barometer done by Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research [ 51 ] and is especially relevant for those extraction activities and reserves that are located in well-defined areas of a country with socio-cultural heterogeneity.

Sudan may be the most illustrative case study. Organized crime: an issue that starts at a lower level with vengeance-seeking group grievance but could increasingly involve extraction and trade with conflict-minerals but also other natural resources , drugs, and other illicit activates [see 20 , 52 , 53 ]. If people start rioting for access to water and food and if the existing institutional resilience is low, fragile states and regions will be put at risk of further instability, where the above-mentioned mechanisms might escalate. Any such escalation may then lead to interruptions of supply chains for essential materials and have international repercussions.

Managing the switch from the employment-intensive construction period of a mine to the more capital-intensive extraction period, which usually comes with huge lay-offs;.

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Establishing a transportation infrastructure that meets the needs of broader development purposes and environmental standards, in particular if the country is land-locked;. Balancing the needs of the affected local communities with other regions and the general public quite often the population in the capital ;. Establishing a robust fiscal regime with permission grants, royalties, and rents; and. Dealing with environmental issues that partly arise through mining processes but usually have other causes.

In general, such fragile states can hardly be assumed to comply with international norms for labour safety or environmental protection. Moreover, their institutions are often weak and have low resilience to stress. According to Paul Collier [ 56 ] a domestic institutional capacity comparable to Portugal in the s is necessary to embark on a path for inclusive and sustainable growth. Stress multipliers such as climate change, volatile commodity prices and pressure from population growth — factors that are not easily managed by weak states—further limit capacity-building in fragile states, increasing the risk of violent conflicts.

Some of these states may even fail. Such drivers of a new vulnerability may not only occur within those states that are currently considered fragile but also within authoritarian regimes e. Exploring this and putting it into any mapping is, however, beyond the scope of this paper. Mapping possible future agricultural and water stress to determine where there is a likelihood of a food and water crisis break-out;. Mapping the future reserves of fuels and minerals, particularly those of critical importance for future supply.

The global resource supply vulnerability map. Source : own compilation Not all countries were considered for inclusion on the map for reasons of obvious political stability, known lack of resource reserves, or minimal threat of environmental stress. The first layer uses information from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO to identify the agricultural systems at risk from future environmental impacts such as extreme weather events and climate change, natural conditions, and disasters [ 58 ].

States facing environmental risk may not be able to achieve sustainable levels of food and water resources. Such risks as water and land scarcity may also compromise the extraction and production of minerals and energy resources. With new assessments coming up such as the forthcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports more detailed analyses can be undertaken.

Note that the mechanisms above are close to these indicators, though our scope is closer on the resource nexus. These include fossil fuels oil, coal, natural gas , base metals iron ore, bauxite and alumina, copper , and critical elements rare earth elements, cobalt, lithium, manganese, nickel, indium, gallium, tellurium.

The fuels and minerals considered are critical to many aspects of developed and developing economies. Oil is essential to transportation, base metals to construction, and so on. The other elements are considered critical for their importance for future technologies especially green ones according to both the U.

Once the information for each layer was compiled, they were overlapped to see where all three factors meet. That means, for example, that even though Canada and Australia have significant resource reserves, they are neither politically unstable nor at significant risk for environmental stress to warrant inclusion of at-risk states.

After identifying the approximately 45 countries that showed resource supply vulnerabilities, the last step was to identify the most at-risk states. For each state, we scored the severity of political instability, the severity of environmental stressors, and the amount of commodity reserves on a scale of 0—3 3 being the highest.

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The scores for the three categories were added for a total score between 0 and 9. Zambia, for example, received a score of 8, while Mexico received a 5. Those states with the highest scores were grouped into the high-risk states and the remaining countries were grouped as those at relevant risk. The rankings appear on the map next to each state or in the table below it. The following map displays the countries at risk of not being able to supply essential resources to global markets in the near future. States are divided into two categories: high-risk and relevant-risk.

This map originated as part of a report of the Transatlantic Academy [ 4 ] on the global resource nexus and the intersection of markets, international politics, and human security. Major resource endowments e. Major endowments of copper, diamonds, and critical minerals; long-lasting civil war in eastern portions of the state.

Major producer of forest products and agricultural goods e. Major producer of oil, including major off-shore oil reserves; recent political changes towards democracy. Major producer of oil; currently in armed conflict about disputed areas, including oil fields; plans to erect dams for agricultural use along parts of the Nile River that may put downstream countries at risk of water shortages. Severe water shortages; home of terrorists; strategic position at the Strait of Hormuz. Furthermore, the data for political stability, agricultural stressors, and resource reserves does not consider the two entities separately.

Therefore, on the map, the designation between Somalia and Somaliland is shown with a dotted line, but the data and evaluation does not distinguish between the two. When new data for the two separate countries becomes available, new risk assessments should be made in which case both countries may not necessarily be at high risk.

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These states are much more geographically diverse and their conditions vary widely. Consider the examples of Chile and Angola. Chile has a stable democratic government with large amounts of natural resources, especially copper. However, its long coast and diverse terrain as well as water shortages in the mining areas make it susceptible to the type of environmental stress that could restrict supplying the resources to global markets.

On the other hand, Angola faces less environmental stress, but the political instability there threatens to disrupt resource supply nonetheless. Overall, the risk from these countries is relevant to interested stakeholders, but not of the highest degree. One should also consider that such risk factors could occur at a regional scale within large countries such as Brazil, Mexico, India, Russia, China, and others.

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To highlight the importance of the countries at highest risk, they are included on the map in red along with markers of the severity of environmental stress and political instability and the level of resource reserves. The countries at relevant risk are shown in yellow, and their data information is included in the table below the map. Sub-state or cross-boundary regions could experience supply disruptions in large states that may not otherwise be regarded as fragile e. Risks of regional international resource-related conflicts in areas such as the Chinese Seas [see 4 ] should also be figured in.

Why Resource Rich Countries Grow Slowly?

At a lower risk level, stress caused by the resource nexus also leads to cross-boundary tensions, irrational supply strategies and international distortions. Hence, the risks for international markets could become quite severe. Without question, the political, environmental, and resource supply future remains uncertain. This report acknowledges the many scientific and behavioural uncertainties inherent in looking to future possibilities in resource supplies.

Furthermore, our hope is that our analysis and mapping exercise will result in further research that produces data specifically related to the resource nexus and its impact on the resource curse. Besides the obvious scientific uncertainties there is also the uncertainty about future demands for water and food as well as future diets.

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Much here will depend on how Asia will manage its irrigation-based agriculture, whether China might change into becoming a large-scale food importer, and what diet patterns the emerging middle class across the globe will develop. Many organizations and groups assess the fragility of states using different criteria, but often with similar methodologies and findings. Data on political stability is though, by its nature, only a snapshot of current trends and does not provide a good basis for predicting political stability in the near-, middle-, or long-term.

A measure of political stability for Egypt in , for example, would not have predicted the Arab Spring of Our analysis, however, is concerned most with countries experiencing chronic or severe political instability, which can be seen in fragile state indices over time. Using the available data, then, we can identify those states with the greatest instability with some confidence. Reserve estimates usually carry a number of uncertainties.

In the most basic terms, exploration is a risky and cyclical business, with asymmetric information between some consultants and companies on the one hand and the public on the other. Africa, especially, is a continent where, due to political turbulences, not much exploration has been done until very recently. The African Mining Vision AMV , which African leaders adopted in , recognizes the crucial need to strengthen efforts towards exploration. Thus, an optimistic perspective would assume more reserves to be discovered.


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On the other hand, material and geological science tends to be cautious and not assume large discoveries in the near future. Offshore reserves are another source of uncertainties. Recent oil discoveries tend to speak in favour of optimists, but costs of production including environmental and safety costs , regulatory uncertainties, and risks of inter-state conflicts over access and production-sharing agreements should also not be underestimated.

Transparency and accountability, usually seen as clear-cut correlations, will have to accept indirect dynamics where demand from end-users far away triggers unwanted effects in remote areas. Thus, the polluter-pays-principle from environmental policy and international law needs to be converted into a more general and binding responsibility for materials along their value chains and within regional environmental boundaries. Actors to be involved comprise regional and national authorities with assessment capacities, key industries, and concerned stakeholders.

The cumulative causation of decisions and their impacts go beyond the traditional risk criteria of availability of resources and access. The precautionary principle needs to be translated into principles for sustainable resource management at the level of countries that help to maintain the most relevant resource functions over time. In the future, the global resource nexus will likely put all countries under stress.

This paper underlines a risk that is just emerging: a spiral of resource-driven conflicts that may be triggered through regional food and water crises and escalate into socio-economic breakdowns with subsequent interruptions of supply chains for materials. The foresight exercise of our mapping process has revealed the result that, based on current evidence, 15 countries can be considered at high risk, while additional 30 countries will also face serious challenges.

Thus, this is a major challenge for futures research to assess those dynamics and their impacts. Future analysis should certainly address the critical uncertainties that have been highlighted, including data needs, and undertake sensitivity analyses to validate findings. Our map is a preliminary exercise and we hope that this work will inspire more thorough research into the intersection of agricultural and water stress, political stability, and resource management.

These uncertainties, nevertheless, should not hinder relevant actors to draw conclusions and to re-assess risks.

Resource Curse Redux: Linking Food and Water Stress with Global Resource Supply Vulnerabilities Resource Curse Redux: Linking Food and Water Stress with Global Resource Supply Vulnerabilities
Resource Curse Redux: Linking Food and Water Stress with Global Resource Supply Vulnerabilities Resource Curse Redux: Linking Food and Water Stress with Global Resource Supply Vulnerabilities
Resource Curse Redux: Linking Food and Water Stress with Global Resource Supply Vulnerabilities Resource Curse Redux: Linking Food and Water Stress with Global Resource Supply Vulnerabilities
Resource Curse Redux: Linking Food and Water Stress with Global Resource Supply Vulnerabilities Resource Curse Redux: Linking Food and Water Stress with Global Resource Supply Vulnerabilities
Resource Curse Redux: Linking Food and Water Stress with Global Resource Supply Vulnerabilities Resource Curse Redux: Linking Food and Water Stress with Global Resource Supply Vulnerabilities
Resource Curse Redux: Linking Food and Water Stress with Global Resource Supply Vulnerabilities Resource Curse Redux: Linking Food and Water Stress with Global Resource Supply Vulnerabilities
Resource Curse Redux: Linking Food and Water Stress with Global Resource Supply Vulnerabilities Resource Curse Redux: Linking Food and Water Stress with Global Resource Supply Vulnerabilities
Resource Curse Redux: Linking Food and Water Stress with Global Resource Supply Vulnerabilities Resource Curse Redux: Linking Food and Water Stress with Global Resource Supply Vulnerabilities

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