Programme in brief*

The Conference will tackle three topics related to resource availability in a low-carbon world: What materials for a low-carbon future, Primary resource availability in a low-carbon transition and Disruptions in resource availability: the case for the circular economy. The first identifies which materials need to be made available for a successful low-carbon transition and future. The second and third topics address how to make these materials available.

For each issue, a moderated “Groundwork” discussion will set the stage, explore key themes and reveal the latest scientific thinking. Then, a series of action-oriented breakouts will take deep dives into a specific aspect of the issue, with real-world applications that can be put to use in the short term. 

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2 November 2017

Topic 1.png

topic 1

The Groundwork Session will identify the most dynamic sectors in the low-carbon transition, such as energy infrastructure, transportation, and digital technologies, and map out trends, scenarios and issues in structural and strategic material use that will arise as those sectors grow.


In breakout sessions, themes covered may include:

The roles of copper and aluminium in the low-carbon world: Is the demand landscape for common metals radically different from past use following the low-carbon transition?

Metals for energy storage: The energy and transport infrastructure sectors will be dramatically impacted by improvements in energy storage. What are the risks for metals such as lithium or cobalt?

Rare earth metals and digital technologies: The rise of digital technologies means new pressures on key materials such as rare earth metals. What are the risks and scenarios for demand now and in the future?

Resources for urbanisation: How can cities grow rapidly, drawing on material resources like cement, glass and steel, while readying themselves for a low-carbon future?

Phosphates for productive agriculture: Phosphorus is not a renewable resource - yet phosphorus-based fertilisers may be key to the increase in yields needed to maintain food requirements. What policies can foster resource efficiency and recovery, and what technologies and methods can provide alternative sources of fertilisers?

topic 2

The Groundwork Session will examine the demand for extracted materials in a low-carbon transition and the constraints on meeting demand. Physical factors like geological availability may not be the prime limiting factor; rather, environmental, social, political and economic factors may be the bigger barrier. What technical and organisational innovation can mitigate their impact?

For this topic, breakout themes may include:

The energy-water-land nexus and primary resources: What happens when extracting the very materials essential to low-carbon growth is not cost- or energy-efficient? What are the implications and solutions for businesses and governments? Finding and accessing new mines will put pressure on land and water use. How can the trade-offs be managed by authorities, communities and companies?

Governance to sustainably manage resources: How can the private sector be responsible for its activities’ impact and engage communities to share the benefits?

Sustainable financing for resource availability: What role does the financial sector play in sustainable resource extraction? And how is it integrating the inter-dependent risks related to resource scarcity?

3 November 2017

Topic 3.png

topic 3

The Groundwork session will assess the potential of the circular economy to disrupt and radically change the resource use and availability landscape. The circular economy can contribute to decarbonising the economy, and a fully circular economy could even be a new source of resources and materials. How can we encourage a true paradigm shift?

Breakout themes might include:

The obstacles and pathways to recycling metals and minerals at scale: What are the current economic, technical, legal or social obstacles to scaling up recycling?  Can new forms of collaboration between businesses and institutions help?

Designing new materials and products for recycling and re-use:  how can resource efficiency considerations be incorporated into the design process, and what is the implication for markets, pricing and demand?

Policies to encourage the circular economy: what policies are most effective at encouraging the development of a circular economy? Do plastics or e-waste represent the low-hanging fruit?

The potential of additive manufacturing in the circular economy: can 3D printing improve manufacturing’s efficiency at scale? In what other ways can manufacturing’s resource footprint be improved?

Social and business model innovations that promote circular-economy thinking: what promising social trends and business models, for example, collaborative collective initiatives, could drive change toward the circular economy paradigm?

* The programme above is tentative and may be subject to change.