The Hague Institute for Global Justice convened a roundtable on the equitable distribution of natural resources with a select group of experts on 10 June 2013 in The Hague. The motivation was to understand how to prevent conflict over natural resources, which are becoming increasingly scarce as populations grow, standards of living improve, and environmental challenges, including climate change, become more acute.

The discussion concluded that there is need for urgent action, beyond unrealistic promises of ever-increasing efficiency and toward greater sufficiency. Concrete steps should include the adoption of more sustainable lifestyles, while still permitting growth and progress especially for those least developed today; as well as providing leadership, improving planning and rebalancing the role of state and non-state actors within a rule-of-law framework. On the question posed by the title, roundtable participants concluded that the equitable distribution of natural resources is currently “a pipe dream”, which should be developed into a negotiating tool that leads to changes in normative and legal mechanisms for resource distribution.

“The state has to recover its central role in planning… for the long-term needs and aspirations of communities and building partnerships with all relevant stakeholders for implementation.”

Participants encouraged The Hague Institute to follow up on this roundtable and pursue specific networking, research, and policy-relevant activities to advance this agenda further.