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Sound and independent information
on the environment

A new global order

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Global power is shifting. One superpower no longer holds sway and regional power blocs are increasingly important, economically and diplomatically. As global interdependence and trade expands, Europe will benefit if it can expand its resource efficiency and knowledge-based economy. Future economic power shifts may mean that the EU wields less global influence in the future. In view of current changes in global governance mechanisms, designing policies to represent European interests effectively on the international stage will be a growing challenge.

Why is this global power shift important for you?

When countries grow relatively fast they often gain in economic power because of their enlarging production and consumption markets. They may exercise that power at international negotiations on economic matters (such as trade barriers and product standards). But they can also use that influence in other areas, including in the context of environmental negotiations.

The resources that fuel national economies also influence the international balance of power. Owning essential resources may further improve emerging economies' competitiveness and influence, particularly given the uneven distribution of resources globally. For example, more than half of the world's stock of lithium, a metal at present essential for hybrid and full-electrical cars, is believed to be located in Bolivia.

The global use of Neodymium, which is an essential material for many high tech laser technologies, is expected to quadruple over the next 30 years. The element is only available in quantity in China. Growth in related industries will be almost totally dependent on China and its production capacity. The consequences for both the states that possess such resources and the economies reliant on imports will be considerable.


Graph 1: Selected raw materials

Why is intensified global resource competition important for Europe?  Access to natural resources is a crucial factor for Europe’s production base. Europe is relatively resource-poor and needs to import much of the resources it requires.

For more information see: Global megatrends: intensified global competition for resources: www.eea.europa.eu/soer/europe-and-the-world/megatrends

Selected raw materials

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European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100