Resource Scarcity, Wellbeing and Development

Published on 6 June 2023

This paper begins by providing a brief overview of resource scarcity issues in the four areas of food, water, land and energy, in each case focusing primarily on the global level and setting out the basic supply and demand drivers involved. The paper then discusses why it may make sense to see these issues as an interconnected set rather than as discrete single issues. Finally, Part 1 discusses whether concerns over resource scarcity are misplaced, given that Malthusian concerns about resource depletion have often been misplaced in the past.

The second part of the paper then discusses some of the ways in which resource scarcity could affect development and human wellbeing. In doing so, the paper considers three different approaches to assessing wellbeing – the economic or resource-based approach, the subjective or ‘happiness’ approach, and the capability or freedom approach – and discusses how resource scarcity could impact each of these forms of wellbeing.

Cite this publication

Evans, A. Evans, J (2011) 'Resource Scarcity, Wellbeing and Development' Bellagio Initiative, Brighton: IDS

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