There is an unprecedented global demand for land, energy, food, water, and minerals and scarcities frequently occur. The migration of people has led to an accelerated exploitation of renewable and non-renewable natural resources. Resources are frequently used interrelatedly and a resource nexus exist. The resource nexus comprises the linkages between natural resources and raw materials that arise from economic, social, and natural processes. Physical, economic, and social interconnections between resources are growing and influence resource availability. The richness in natural resources has attracted people to urban areas but they are susceptible to over-exploitation or inappropriate use and are of global importance (Andrews-Speed et al 2012; Bathelt 2005; World Economic Forum 2014; National Geographic (sa); and Hayter and Patchell 2015).
Our life is based on natural resources. Natural materials become resources when humans value them. People settle where they can make a living and where resources are available. Resources are extremely varied. A resource is a product of biological, ecological or geological processes that satisfies human wants and obtained from the environment to meet our needs and wants (food, water, and shelter). Natural resources in the form of materials, water and energy, as well as the land available to us on Earth, are the basis of all living beings on our planet. Natural resources (food, water, energy, and minerals) are stocks of materials that exist in the natural environment that are both scarce and economically useful in production or consumption, either in their raw state or after a minimal amount of processing. It originates in the interconnections between different resources (e.g. from the requirement of one resource as an input to produce another). It is biophysical materials that satisfy human wants and provide direct inputs to human well being. Resources can’t be consumed in their original form so resource development help to process into more usable commodities. All goods either embody natural resources or require resources for their production (e.g. food crops require land and water to grow). The utility of resources and their contribution to human welfare may be experienced directly – for example, as material inputs such as food and shelter that enable subsistence – or indirectly via its role in exchange (Gregory et al 2009; Miller 2007; World Trade Report 2010; WEF 2014; Andrews-Speed et al 2012; Muilerman and Blonk 2001; SERI 2009; Hayter and Patchell 2015).
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There are three types, namely perpetual (the use of which does not lead to a reduction in their size, e.g. solar energy), renewable resources (e.g. fresh water, agricultural products (e.g. crops) and fish, and wood that can be harvested – but not faster than their rate of replenishment, and non-renewable (created by very slow geological processes, so slow in human terms that their use diminishes the available stocks, e.g. fossil fuels for energy and minerals) (Miller 2007; Muilerman and Blonk 2001).
Natural resources depletion has taken at an unprecedented, rapid, and environmentally unsustainable pace. On a finite planet, the supply of food, water, energy, land, and materials is limited. Nature provides humans with all resources necessary for life. Without the constant use of natural resources, neither our economy nor our society could function. With a growing global population, economy, and affluence, our consumption of nature grows. Developing countries are more dependent on natural resources as their primary income source and for their livelihoods. Global extraction and consumption of natural resources will continue to increase dramatically, unless measures are implemented to reduce the overall amounts of resource use (UNEP 2014; SERI 2009; Moseley et al 2014; Andrews-Speed et al 2012; Muilerman and Blonk 2001; UNEP 2010).
With a dramatically increase in population, the demand for resources is taking place. The biosphere has a finite supply of material resources, but demand for them grows exponentially, leading to unprecedented shortages. Over the next 20 years, the world will see accelerating demand for natural resource commodities. To meet the growing demands for fresh water, food, timber, fuel, and fiber, humans have extensively changed ecosystems. The natural resource base our societies are built on is in danger of over-exploitation and collapse. Even if we manage to keep resources in use or in an accessible form, the amount of resources available is limited compared to the potential demand of a growing and increasingly affluent society. Against the backdrop of global environmental change, globalization, and urbanization, the resource nexus has implications both for lifestyles and livelihoods humanity’s demands exceed the planet’s capacity to efficiently provide for us (WEF 2014; SERI 2009; Andrews-Speed et al 2012; UNEP 2010; Balteanu and Dogaru 2011; and Harvey 2014).
Finite resources are being depleted and renewable resources are being extracted beyond their maximum sustainable yield. Natural resource availability is the function of the supply and demand of resources that are discovered, processed, distributed, and consumed in intricate global value chains. Defining natural resource availability often fails to consider how they are distributed, both between countries and between individuals within countries. The challenges of sufficient and equitable access to natural resources will increase as the world population is projected to reach 8 billion by 2030, and over 9 billion by 2050. Physical, economic, and social interconnections between resources are growing, and will increasingly influence resource availability, in both positive and negative way (Andrews-Speed et al 2012; UNEP 2014; UNEP 2010; Moseley et al 2014; SERI 2009; WEF 2014; Balteanu and Dogaru 2011; Harvey 2014).
Concern over the potential for resource scarcity has grown considerably. Most resources are asymmetrically distributed around the globe. There is a great concern about whether the world’s limited natural resource base is capable of sustaining economic growth and a growing population. Notably, an increasing demand for natural resource commodities will challenge human ingenuity to continue to overcome impending resource scarcities. Actions affecting one resource often have consequences for other resources, in the same locale or on the other side of the world (WEF 2014; Andrews-Speed et al 2012; SERI 2009).
PERSPECTIVES ON HUMAN-ENVIRONMENT RELATIONSHIPS
Impacts of human activities on nature have increased, changing ecosystem functions. Human activities and environmental change are strongly connected. Human-environment relationships is the interactions and feedbacks between the human and the natural components and to the linkages between the social and the geophysical systems. It deals with linkages between the social and physical systems, focusing on the human pressures on the biogeochemical processes and the environmental effects on society. It focuses on the escalating intensity of the interactions between human and nature. The interdependencies of natural and human systems are complex and can be measured by looking at spatial patterns of resource availability and demand, the changes that occur and how these patterns are affected by distribution, growth, and the movement of populations (Balteanu and Dogaru 2011).
UTILIZATION OF RESOURCES INFLUENCES EARTH
The global economy depends on resource inputs extracted from the environment. Global economic and social development has been achieved through intensive, inefficient and unsustainable use of the earth’s finite resources. The extraction and use of natural resources are responsible for environmental problems. Many resource intensive patterns cause severe direct local environmental degradation on global ecosystems and the ecological services, including the devastation of old growth forests, the depletion and pollution of water resources, the destruction of fisheries, any species are under threat of extinction; and the despoliation of land in order to extract mineral resources. The major effects of the human impact on nature appeared first locally and then, as they multiplied and amplified, regionally and globally (Muilerman and Blonk 2001; Andrews-Speed et al 2012; SERI 2009; Harvey 2014; Sherbinin and Curran 2004; and Balteanu and Dogaru 2011; UNEP 2014).
The human impact on the global environment and the earth system is large enough to denote a new geological epoch: the Anthropocene. Humanity is now a geophysical force, as influential on the earth as other major ecosystem functions. Humans cannot persist on business-as-usual paths through the 21st century because the stress on the global ecosystem and its many life-sustaining functions is too great. (Andrews-Speed et al 2012; and UNEP 2010). Thus, a sustainable livelihood is proposed.
SUSTAINABLE LIVELIHOODS PERSPECTIVE
A livelihood is sustainable which can cope with stress and shocks, maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets, and provide sustainable livelihood opportunities for the next generation; and which contributes net benefits to other livelihoods at the local and global levels and in the short and long term. It is founded on the ability of households to mobilize the assets that they have. It comprises the capabilities, assets (material and social resources) and activities required for a means of living. Achieving sustainable patterns of resource use is about achieving sustainable development. Sustainably utilizing resources is when resources are used to meet present generations needs without comprising the ability of future generations to meet their own resource needs. The establishment of Sustainable Development Goals must integrate resource management concerns and promote the decoupling of economic growth rates from escalating resource use and environmental degradation. Goodland and Ledec (1987) (as cited in Bathelt 2005) defines sustainable development as “a pattern of social and structural economic transformations (e.g. development) which optimizes the economic and societal benefits available in the present, without jeopardizing the potential for similar benefits in the future” (Andrews-Speed et al 2012).
Urbanisation, coupled with an increase in growth and development, place stress on resources. Resources are frequently scarce. There is a greater demand than supply, inevitably exceeding its carrying capacity. Shifting to an integrated perception of future resource availability is a critical part of tackling the social and economic shifts required to reach three goals: sufficient supplies of natural resources, flourishing natural ecosystems and sustainable prosperity for global populations. To achieve a reduction in resource use, it is vital that a change in our economies deal with natural resources and the services they provide takes place. The challenge is to ensure a high quality of life without exceeding the environmental capacities of our planet. A strategy of reducing resource use will diminish the pressures on the global environment. Humans need to balance short-term rates of use against long-term availability to ensure a sustainable future (WEF 2014; SERI 2009; UNESCO 2011).
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