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Resources (Food, Energy, Water, Biodiversity)

ESPAS Report 2019 : Global Trends to 2030

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Friday, April 5, 2019
Abstract in English: 
For something as unknown as the future, it appears to have become surprisingly predictable. A Google search of ‘future 2030’ yields more than 97 million results, all more or less claiming similar things: that 2030 will see a more connected, yet fragmented world, with hazardous shifts in demography and energy, and dangerous changes in technology, environment, and politics.
The future, while overall negative, appears to be a rather certain place.
This illusion of definitiveness is created by two dynamics: first, the pessimistic tone that runs through the vast majority of foresight reports. This is a common feature when it comes to future thinking, with one study showing that all studies undertaken on the future over the last 70 years have one thing in common; pessimism. The reason for this is simple: although both optimism and pessimism are natural human dispositions, the latter is more prevalent by far. Humans are, genetically speaking, biased towards the negative – some studies even indicate that this is particularly the case for Europeans. Second, pessimism in foresight is encouraged by the grave air that surrounds it: in general, negative statements are given more attention than positive ones. That said, more pessimism in foresight does not equal greater accuracy, as one study shows.
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52
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Global Material Resources Outlook to 2060 - Economic Drivers and Environmental Consequences

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Tuesday, February 12, 2019
Abstract in English: 
This report presents global projections of materials use and their environmental consequences, providing a quantitative outlook to 2060 at the global, sectoral and regional levels for 61 different materials (biomass resources, fossil fuels, metals and non-metallic minerals). It explains the economic drivers determining the decoupling of economic growth and materials use, and assesses how the projected shifts in sectoral and regional economic activity influence the use of different materials. The projections include both primary and secondary materials, which provides a deeper understanding of what drives the synergies and trade-offs between extraction and recycling.The report projects a doubling of global primary materials use between today and 2060. Population and converging per capita income growth drive the growth in materials use. However, structural change, especially in non-OECD countries, and technology improvements partially dampen that growth. Metals and non-metallic minerals are projected to grow more rapidly than other types of materials.
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214
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Harnessing the Fourth Industrial Revolution for Water

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Abstract in English: 
As part of the Harnessing the Fourth Industrial Revolution for the Earth series, this paper explores the opportunity for advanced technology to help address global water and sanitation challenges. The Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies have the potential to assemble more complete, current and accessible information on water supply and demand. Satellite imagery and other earth observation tools are delivering profound new insights on water supply in parts of the world where conventional ground-based methods to measure water supply are not feasible or practical.
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26
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The America First Energy Plan: Renewing the Confidence of American Energy Producers

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Thursday, August 17, 2017
Abstract in English: 
US energy policy is on the brink of a dramatic shift as President Donald Trump seeks to dismantle the Obama Administration’s environmentally-friendly energy initiatives, remove environmental and climate concerns from US energy policies, and reorient focus on producing low-cost energy and creating American jobs. To achieve the desired increase in domestic fossil fuel production and energy employment, President Trump, his administration, and his allies have promised to implement the America First Energy Plan, intended to reinvigorate the US coal industry, expand domestic fossil fuel production, cut regulations, open federal land for fossil fuel exploration, and reduce federal support for climate and environmental programs.
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12
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Towards a sustainable European forest-based bioeconomy

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Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Wednesday, December 20, 2017
Abstract in English: 
This science-based study provides a synthesis of existing knowledge for policymakers on the prospects for a sustainable, inclusive forest-based bioeconomy in Europe, including:
• The importance of forests and the forest-based sector in contributing to a European bioeconomy;
• The assessment of a forest-based bioeconomy in view of innovation and economic, social and environmental sustainability;
• Future issues that may affect the development of a forest-based bioeconomy.
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Number of pages: 
162
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State of the World’s Plants - 2017

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Abstract in English: 
Last year's State of the World’s Plants report focused predominantly on synthesising knowledge of the numbers of different categories of plants: How many vascular plants are currently known to science? How many are threatened with extinction? What is the number of plants with uses? etc. We also looked at the main threats to these plants, including climate change, land- use change, invasive plants, disease and over-exploitation. However, simply knowing how many plants there are and how many are under threat is not enough – what is also needed is an understanding of why some plants are more vulnerable than others. This year, therefore, we have also examined the emerging evidence for the characteristics of plants that appear to make some types less/more resilient to current and future threats.
It is not all doom and gloom, however. In this year’s State of the World’s Plants, we also highlight the rapidly accumulating discoveries and knowledge that provide important sign-posts to the next food crops, medicines, timbers etc. Information is now also emerging on the effectiveness of conservation actions and policies in protecting some of the most important plant species and communities across the globe. While there is still much more to do, these positive outcomes demonstrate that with scientific knowledge and evidence-based global actions, it is possible to conserve the extraordinary diversity of plants on Earth and to build on the unique combination of beauty and science which can together provide some of the solutions for the global challenges facing humanity today.
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100
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The Global Risks Report 2018

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Abstract in English: 
Last year’s Global Risks Report was published at a time of heightened global uncertainty and strengthening popular discontent with the existing political and economic order. The report called for “fundamental reforms to market capitalism” and a rebuilding of solidarity within and between countries. One year on, a global economic recovery is under way, offering new opportunities for progress that should not be squandered: the urgency of facing up to systemic challenges has, if anything, intensified amid proliferating indications of uncertainty, instability and fragility.
Humanity has become remarkably adept at understanding how to mitigate conventional risks that can be relatively easily isolated and managed with standard risk management approaches. But we are much less competent when it comes to dealing with complex risks in the interconnected systems that underpin our world, such as organizations, economies, societies and the environment. There are signs of strain in many of these systems: our accelerating pace of change is testing the absorptive capacities of institutions, communities and individuals. When risk cascades through a complex system, the danger is not of incremental damage but of “runaway collapse” or an abrupt transition to a new, suboptimal status quo.
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Number of pages: 
80
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African futures: Horizon 2025

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Abstract in English: 
If Sub-Saharan Africa’s future had to be encapsulated in a single word, it would be transformation. In recent years the continent has undergone significant economic, socio-political, and technological transformations, a process which is likely to accelerate over the coming decades. While it would be an overstatement to proclaim that the future will be African, there are strong indications that the global importance of the continent is set to rise – and not only as a source of risk factors spilling over from poverty and instability. By 2045, approximately a quarter of the world’s population will be African. Looking ahead, there is also the potential for Africa’s economic growth to outpace the global average. The expansion of foreign direct investment (FDI), which today already outstrips aid, could drive further integration of African countries in the world economy. The diversification of Africa’s relationship with external partners – which now not only include traditional Western partners such as the EU, but also Asian, Middle Eastern and Gulf countries – will also contribute to increasing Africa’s prominence in the global arena.
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84
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A Strategy for the Trans-Pacific Century

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Thursday, October 19, 2017
Abstract in English: 
The open, rules-based international order in Asia is under threat. The set of post-World War II arrangements designed by the United States and its allies and partners provided an unprecedented degree of stability, security, prosperity, and freedom globally and in the region but the continuation of this system under US leadership is no longer guaranteed. As the United States and its Asian and European allies and partners face a diverse array of new challenges in the Asia-Pacific and at home, Washington must reassess its goals, strategy, policies, and its very commitment to leadership in the region. At a time when the United States promotes “America First,” to what extent does a dated order in Asia continue to serve US and allied interests? Will the United States be willing to sustain its long-standing security-provider role in the region, and do its allies find preexisting US commitments credible? How can the United States, and likeminded Asian and European states, best contribute to security, prosperity, and democratic values in the region? Does China’s rise permit the possibility of greatpower cooperation, or is some level of competition —and even outright conflict— inevitable? To what extent, in the changing regional economic architecture, are the United States and its partners willing to make alterations in governance structure in order to adapt to the new economic weight of emerging economies? How do issues that are likely to be high-priority agenda items in the near future (e.g., food, water, and energy security; the environment; urbanization; demographic change; and disruptive technologies) challenge existing frameworks that have shaped regional affairs and societies? These are among the questions that must be addressed as the United States seeks to secure its interests in Asia, and as Asian partners look to the United States for leadership. The Asia-Pacific may be the world’s most dynamic geopolitical region. According to some projections, the majority of all global economic activity could take place within Asia by 2050.
Military might often follows economic power, and Asian countries are already spending more than European states on defense. Both of these developments reflect a broader shift in global power from West to East. If the twentieth century could be characterized as the “Trans-Atlantic Century,” the twenty-first century may well become known as the “Trans-Pacific Century.”
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Number of pages: 
69
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OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2017-2026

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Monday, July 10, 2017
Abstract in English: 
Over the ten-year Outlook period, agricultural markets are projected to remain weak, with growth in China weakening and biofuel policies having less impact on markets than in the past. Future growth in crop production will be attained mostly by increasing yields, and growth in meat and dairy production from both higher animal stocks and improved yields. Agricultural trade is expected to grow more slowly, but remain less sensitive to weak economic conditions than other sectors. These demand, supply and trade pressures are all evident in Southeast Asia, where this report identifies scope to improve agricultural productivity sustainably. Real prices are expected to remain flat or decline for most commodities.
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Number of pages: 
142
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