GRO to map world's fragility to resource shortages

Published: 30 August 2013 at 15:22

Anglia Ruskin project to examine impact on economic, social and political stability

The Global Resource Observatory (GRO) – the most ambitious project to map the world’s resources in over 40 years – is being launched by Anglia Ruskin University.

The main objective of the GRO project is to investigate the effect of resource constraints on short-term GDP growth, and provide clear information to policymakers on a range of scenarios in order to close the time-lag between the short-term agenda of governments (usually 5 years) and the long-term vision of current models.

The three-year GRO project will produce the following outputs:

• A new global database of national demand, supply and flow figures relevant to global resource security.

• A global ‘debt map’ for resource availability, specifying for each UN country the current supply of resources that can be found within its borders compared to current consumption.

• A world-scale system dynamics model to investigate the current interaction between resources and the economy.

• An agent-based model to investigate possible future economic growth pathways.

Dr Aled Jones, Director of Anglia Ruskin’s Global Sustainability Institute, will give an overview of the project when he delivers the opening keynote speech at the annual conference of the World Association for Sustainable Development in London on Monday, 2 September.

Dr Jones said:

“Human society operates with a fairly simple model of capital flows based on providing the goods and services that people use.  The current economic system behaves as if it is a linear system with no concept of limitations to resources.
“The current evidence suggests that resource constraints will, at best, steadily increase energy and commodity prices over the next century and, at worse, create a very uncertain and unstable economic model.
“How resource constraints impact the economy is complex and depends on a number of factors.  The GRO project will accelerate thinking on government and financial market responses to the consequences associated with resource constraints.”

The GRO project team is building a network of collaborators including Lloyds of London, the Aldersgate Group, the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, and academics in Italy, Iceland, Sweden and the USA.

GRO has benefited from £300,000 of seed funding from the Dawe Charitable Foundation.  Cambridge entrepreneur Peter Dawe said:

“The recent rice and wheat supply shortages and subsequent price spikes led to public disorder in several countries.  This was my wake-up call to the need to look at each of the major resources to see how market failure might impact the global economy.”

The World Association for Sustainable Development’s annual conference runs from 2-4 September at the London School of Economics.  For further information about Anglia Ruskin’s Global Sustainability Institute, please visit