Global trends – implications on the development and use of natural resources

A seminar the 8th of June in collaboration with the think tank Rights and Resources Initiative

Major shifts in political power

It is now widely recognized that the world is changing in fundamental ways and that the global regimes that govern natural resource ownership, production, finance and trade are in flux. There is rapidly growing global demand for natural resources, including land, minerals, agriculture, energy and water. This demand has put tremendous pressure on these, often increasingly scarce resources, many of which are located in forest areas of the developing world – well recognized to have high rates of poverty, social and political exclusion and often limited recognition of human and civil rights. These expanding markets are also providing new and perhaps unprecedented opportunities for increased local incomes and economic growth. At the same time there are major shifts in political power – both at the local and global levels – as democratization, transparence and accountability spreads, political power shifts towards the emerging economies including China, Brazil, India, Indonesia, and telecommunications technology facilitates greater connectivity across the world. Climate change is already having important effects on both natural systems, poverty, production possibilities and political systems. It is not clear if and how social movements, governments, and private sector actors will respond to these fundamental shifts and if new regimes can be put in place to better govern the world’s natural resources.

Trends are often misunderstood

Some analysts focus on the negative trends and effects for humanity, e.g. the climate change scenarios, depletion of oil/biodiversity/water and other natural resources, increasing risk of fatal pandemics, etc. Other analysts are more optimistic, and draw attention to the positive trends and the opportunities created by expanding markets and progress and breakthroughs in science and technology. Some interpretations are based on sound science and observations, others are pure speculation, but, regardless of what, they are often misunderstood and/or grossly exaggerated in their perceived impacts by media and groups with vested interests. Some analysts have a long time perspective, others a short, leading to the risk of the trends being shown to be wrong, e.g. the predictions by the “Club of Rome” in the early 1980s that virtually all mineral and oil resources would be depleted before the year 2000, or turn out to be correct, e.g. the predictions 20 or so years ago that China and the “Pacific Rim” would take over the economic leadership in the world.

Trends affect our medium- and long-term activities

Whatever the case, we as scientists, politicians, business and community leaders must understand these global trends since they will affect our medium- and long-term activities and situations. The most important thing is to be well informed about such trends, how they may lead to risks and opportunities, and also be aware of what can and must be done to reduce risks for negative impacts and embrace opportunities for positive ones.

Blue Skies meeting at Chatham House in London

”Resources, rights, and development in a changing world” was the title of a Blue Skies meeting at Chatham House in London on May 3–4 2011. This meeting was organized by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) and participants were 20 specially invited leaders and thinkers from all over the world. They discussed trends related to natural resources globally which are under stress from rising consumption and unsustainable production practices. The meeting payed particular attention to the local and global political and trade issues that will affect the rights to and development of these resources and how local and global political regimes are likely to evolve over the next several decades.

Comments on how the trends will influence the South as well as the North

In collaboration with RRI, The Royal Swedish Academy of Forestry and Agriculture’s (KSLA) Committee on International Forest Issues and the Secretariat for International Forest Issues will organise a one-day follow up seminar titled ”Global trends – implications on the development and use of natural resources” at KSLA on June 8 2011. Sten Nilsson (fellow of KSLA) and Andy White (RRI) will begin the meeting by summarizing the outcomes of the London meeting. Invited guests from Africa, Asia and Latin America will comment on how the global trends are playing out in their regions and the implications for natural resources, local peoples’ rights and development. Representatives from Swedish organisations in the forest, natural resources, and development fields will provide comments on how they perceive how the trends will influence respective organisation’s work and priorities.

Programme for the 8th of June

Moderator: Director Åke Barklund

09.00 Registration and coffee

09.30 Introduction

Åke Barklund, Secretary General and Managing Director

09.40 The Megatrends and the Forest Sector

Sten Nilsson, Professor, fellow of KSLA

10.10 The main results of the ”Blue Skies” meeting at Chatham House

Andy White, Dr., Coordinator, Rights and Resources Initiative

10.50 Views from a Swedish participant at Chatham House

Johan Schaar, Director, Department for Policy Support, Sida

11.05 Views from the South

Asia – Ujjwal Pradhan, Asia Reginal Director, The World Agroforestry Centre, Indonesia

Central and South America – Susan Kandel, Director, PRISMA, El Salvador

Africa – Prof. Godwin Kowero, Head, African Forest Forum

12.10 Lunch

13.10 Comments from Swedish institutions

Swedish Forest Industries Federation – Marie S. Arwidson, Director

Swedish Forest Agency – Monika Stridsman, Director-general

WWF Sweden – Håkan Wirtén, Secretary General

Swedish Family Forestry – Lennart Ackzell, International coordinator

Swedish Agricultural University – Lisa Sennerby Forsse, President

14.10 Plenary session – Two independent views

Lars-Göran Sandberg, President, Timwood AB , Johan Rockström, Executive Director, Stockholm Environment Institute and at the Stockholm Resilience Centre,

14.45 Coffee break

15.00 Rounding of session

Sten Nilsson, Andy White, Johan Schaar, Johan Rockström and Lars-Göran Sandberg

16.00 End of the session

17.00 Dinner

with the speakers, the committee for international forestry issues and the board of the Royal Academy of Forestry and Agriculture

Photo: John Foxx