President Clinton to join the business, finance and political leaders for a unique two-day forum on world’s resources

The international business and finance community must take the lead in solving increasing food, energy and water scarcity as population growth and economic development puts greater strains on the planet’s resources.

The call to action was issued today by Re|Source 2012, a new initiative created by the University of Oxford, its Smith School of Enterprise and Environment and The Rothschild Foundation to tackle resource scarcity and highlight the business opportunities of sustainable management.

Sir David King, co-director of Re|Source and former chief scientific adviser to the UK government, said: “The growing demand for food, energy and water by our growing and the increasingly wealthy population is creating unprecedented pressures on our finite natural resources.

“The associated risks represent major opportunities for innovative business communities. Managing resources efficiently and effectively in a way that protects the environment and meets rising demand is the only productive way forward.”

The need to better manage the challenges of resource scarcity is now rising rapidly up the agenda for governments, investors and businesses alike, as well as environmental leaders and organisations. It has become a critical security issue for corporate leaders trying to ensure a reliable supply of water and energy to manufacture products and for governments concerned about energy or food supplies.

The world is expected to grow from seven billion people today to nine billion by 2050 – to meet this growth it will need to produce 70 per cent more food – which will place consequential demands on water and energy. More than 40 of the world’s top 100 economies are companies. Only eight per cent of the world’s freshwater is used by individuals – the rest is used by agriculture and industry.

Sir David, director of the Smith School of Enterprise and Environment at Oxford University, continued:

“Managing issues arising from resource scarcity and management is one of the over-riding issues of the first half of the 21st century. It is not just a matter of empty threats and negativity.

“There are huge advantages and opportunities for business, finance and government in responsible resource management. Companies and investors can enjoy far greater returns and rewards with effective resource management.

“This can be a win-win for everyone if we can engage the financial, business and environmental communities together to tackle these issues.”

To help drive this change Re|Source is bringing together 250 of the world’s most influential thinkers and leaders at Oxford University in July to start a new conversation on managing natural resources, longer-term thinking and aligning people and profit.

They will address key questions including how will resource scarcity and volatility affect political, business and military planning? How can the financial community change to encourage CEOs and investee companies to rise to these global resource challenges? And how will capitalism evolve in a resource-constrained world?

Key speakers include

  • President Bill Clinton, Founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation and 42nd President of the United States
  • President Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, on the investment opportunities in tomorrow’s economies
  • David Nabarro, the UN’s Special Representative on Food Security and Nutrition
  • Peter Brabeck, Chairman of Nestle, the world’s largest food company, and Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister of the Environment and Water Resource in Singapore, speaking on the business and political risks of water security
  • Jeremy Grantham, founder of GMO, one of the world’s largest investment funds, on commodity pricing and volatility and Nobel Laureate economist Amartya Sen on the economics of resource scarcity
  • Rt Hon David Miliband MP, former UK Foreign Secretary, on the role of government and Lord Browne of Madingley, former CEO of BP energy and now the partner of Riverstone Holdings LLC, on private-sector leadership
  • Plus senior military figures including Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, Climate and Energy Security Envoy of the UK Ministry of Defence and FCO, and high-ranking officials from NATO (to be confirmed)
  • In addition, James Cameron, internationally acclaimed film director, environmentalist and explorer, will give a special presentation at a dinner at the Ashmolean Museum.