How do we ensure the availability of strategic materials and mineral resources for a low-carbon world?

Our economic development has been based on an unsustainable exploitation and use of natural resources. World extraction of material resources has tripled over the past 40 years and is expected to at least double with the development of emerging economies. Today, we extract and consume our planet’s resources much faster than what the Earth can renew itself. At the same time, transitioning to a low-carbon economy and energy system may increase demand for some key minerals and strategic materials.

The Veolia Institute’s 10th International Conference, held in partnership with the Oxford Martin School, offered perspectives on how to make strategic materials and mineral resources available for a sustainable future, one that is transitioning to a low-carbon economy. It sought to build bridges amongst those who can contribute insights and solutions, from academics and the scientific community to policy-makers, civil society leaders, business leaders, financiers and entrepreneurs, across geographies and generations.  

Video message from Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator

Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator and former Director of the Oxford Martin School, shared his perspectives on the challenge of natural resource availability for a low-carbon world  in a video message to launch the two days of discussions in Oxford.  

Key Speakers

Key Themes


What materials for a low-carbon future? What are the most dynamic sectors in the low-carbon transition, and what are some scenarios for how structural and strategic material use might shift as those sectors grow?


Primary resource availability in a low-carbon transition: Geological availability may not be the prime constraint to meeting demand for extracted minerals and materials in a low-carbon transition. How might environmental, social, economic and other challenges be mitigated? 


Disruptions in resource availability: the case for the circular economy. A circular economy minimises material and energy inputs and leakage to use and re-use resources efficiently. How can we encourage a true paradigm shift towards a fully circular economy for a low-carbon future?

Lord Stern Public Lecture

Towards a low carbon future

This talk was a public lecture on the first night of the conference. On the night of the first day of Conference, Lord Nicholas Stern gave a special address at the Examinations schools to replace the debate in the wider context of the low carbon transition. This was intended to help participants put in perspectives the debates of the day. 





How attendees benefited

  • At this invitation-only conference, there were opportunities to interact with other leaders of their fields, and participate in substantive conversations in an exclusive setting.

  • There were ample networking opportunities with peers across the academic, corporate, policy and non-profit worlds, and from different stages of the resource value chain.

  • Attendees discovered novel ideas, creative nudges and potential collaborations to realise their own resource-availability objectives.

About Us

The conference was organised by the Veolia Institute in partnership with Oxford Martin School.


With the support of the Prince Albert II Foundation
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