Future Resources: Overview of Resource Use Download PDF


  • Natural resources are essential for our survival. Agricultural land provides us with food; a sufficient supply of clean and potable water sustains life; and raw material of various kinds is needed for shelter.
  • Natural resources are required not only for meeting our basic needs, but also for fulfilling our aspirations for a better quality of life, for higher standards of living, for comfort and ease, and for economic and social well-being.
  • Every society depends on natural resources like biogenic and mineral raw materials, on energy sources like fossil fuels and solar and wind energy, and on clean water.
  • The environmental media and ecosystems are also understood as being natural resources, with their biodiversity, the different functions of their land areas, and their services. They constitute the essential elements that keep our economy functioning and guarantee an increase in the well-being of mankind.
  • Consequently, we need to devote more attention to resource use, since global demand for various goods and services is increasing, but the resources available to us are finite and limited. Industrialized countries already have high levels of resource consumption, while emerging countries need resources to provide appropriate living standards for their populations.
  • Coordinated and collaborative efforts are required to ensure both availability and conservation of natural resources. Industrialized countries need to demonstrate how they intend to maintain their living standards in the face of considerably reduced resources, and emerging countries need to determine how their economies can continue growing through the most efficient use of scarce natural resources.
  • The perception of managing natural resources efficiently and sustainably is a key consideration in taking future decisions. With a supposed yearly growth rate of 8% of GDP, India’s middle class is poised to grow tremendously in the near future. But among the 1.2 billion Indians are millions of poor people who are also striving for a better life.
  • These developments will have consequences for consumption patterns in daily life. Food and nutrition, housing, mobility, communication, and leisure time are only a few areas that will change in terms of both quantity and quality.
  • Physical and economic constraints might become increasingly important in the future. While the European Union in general and Germany in particular, have adopted appropriate resource policies to maintain their wealth, it is also important for India to participate in the discussion on resource use and to identify its own areas for action. For the European Union, as well as for India, what is on the agenda is not only the availability of natural resources, but also the environmental conditions under which they are used.
  • The focus of interest in the debate over natural resources is mostly on raw materials. All countries fear the decreasing availability of materials like fossil fuels, rich metal ore deposits, and high-quality minerals.
  • And all countries will be affected, whether they depend on domestic extraction or on imports. This is the reason why this study starts with an in-depth examination of raw materials.

Resources: What are we talking about?

  • The word “resource” seems to have a clear and straightforward meaning. But a reading of different reports and policy papers makes it obvious that various issues are involved in defining the term. The use of different resources, the inconsistent use of the phrase “raw material”, and an unclear scope of the expression “natural resources” lead to confusion, and thus indicate the need for clear and unambiguous definitions.
  • The word “resource” originates from the Latin word “resurgere”, which means to pour out of something or to protrude
  • Resource is normally used in an economic context and encompasses many different aspects like human resources, financial resources, natural resources, and time resources.
  • A resource can be a material or an immaterial good from which benefit is produced. It is commonly understood as a means of production, a means of finance, soil, raw material, energy, people, and time. In the social sciences, a resource can refer to ability, a character trait, or a mindset (psychology); or to education, health, and prestige.


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