Conflicts over natural resources pose one of today’s greatest risks to security. Such clashes often arise in places where abundant resources promise to generate income – paradoxically, in countries that have huge deposits of oil, gas and precious metals. While authoritarian regimes frequently secure their hold on power through the revenue from these natural resources, civil life is more often than not blighted by poverty, corruption, food shortages, poor governance and war. Resource-related conflicts repeatedly lead to population displacement and migration caused by hunger, ethnic or religious strife, human rights violations and environmental destruction.
At the same time, increasing scarcity, growing demand and unequal global distribution of natural resources create a mounting potential for international conflict. Economic upswings in populous emerging economies, combined with an overall growing world population, are leading reasons behind contention over distribution, as more and more countries compete for limited and steadily decreasing natural resources. On top of that, global competition for raw materials in Central Asia, Africa and Latin America is negatively influenced by the confluence of a few powerful companies on the one hand and state monopolies on the other hand; both thwart fair global competition.
We must ask ourselves: What can the international community do to ensure sustainable economic, social and environmental development within the context of the Sustainable Development Goals? How can the world strike a balance between national interests and international responsibility? And what socially responsible global commitments should be made by multinational companies?