Sustainability issues among top 10 global concerns

The teetering Eurozone and the unstable global economy are the biggest issues facing the world today, said business, academic and governmental leaders this week.

Following close behind, however, was resource scarcity, which ranked No. 4 among the top 10 global trends leaders named in the Global Agenda Survey, run by the World Economic Forum Network of Global Agenda Councils, and released Tuesday. Although the list was mostly dominated by political and economic concerns, some key sustainability issues were at the top of leaders’ minds.

Climate change also made it into the top 10, although the timing of the survey – which was taken before Hurricane Sandy hit New York City – may have kept climate issues from climbing higher on the list, which captures the opinions, insights and expertise of the 900 global experts here in Dubai for the Summit on the Global Agenda.

Resource scarcity is the most controversial topic.

As the embedded excerpt above shows (you can also view it directly on the website), resource scarcity is both one of the most underestimated and overestimated issues today.

These two seemingly paradoxical observations suggest two messages. The first is that resource scarcity in conjunction with an ever-growing population is still proving to be a major unsolved global challenge that should require more attention. Second, there is another group who may still be skeptical of this threat, perhaps in line with climate change skeptics, who continue to make up a significant part of the population in several countries, namely the U.S., Britain and Japan.

Following the trend from Rio+20, NGOs and the private sector are most worried about resource scarcity. The fact that respondents overwhelmingly identified the top consequence of such scarcity as “social and/or political unrest” underlies the assumption that resource scarcity will primarily hit the developing nations.

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