Bill Clinton at Oxford forum: how to manage scarcity of resources

The most important decision of the 21st century is whether the human race can learn to share its scarce natural resources for the common good, President Bill Clinton told delegates at Re|Source 2012 during a two-day forum at the University of Oxford.

The 42nd President of the United States said: 'The only strategy that makes sense is the one that says we are going to share the world with other human beings and we will share its natural resources.' This, he said, 'is the fundamental decision of the 21st century.'

Clinton's address reflected a key theme from the conference about the need for greater cooperation between governments, businesses and other organisations to successfully meet the resource challenges the world.

In particular, he noted, the private sector has the commercial leverage and influence to drive significant changes – and can create new models in finance to support these changes.

Mr Clinton was the keynote speaker at Re|Source, a gathering of 250 leaders from business, finance, policy and government, dedicated to the issue of how the world can manage resource scarcity with economic growth.

His keynote address on Friday concluded the event, which had earlier heard from speakers including Nobel laureate Amartya Sen; Amory Lovins, named by Time magazine as one of the world’s 100 most influential people; Rt Hon David Miliband MP, former UK Foreign Secretary; and David Nabarro, the UN’s Special Representative on Food Security and Nutrition.

Business attendees included Jeremy Grantham, chief investment officer of GMO; Sir Terry Leahy, former CEO of Tesco; plus Lord Browne of Madingley, Partner at Riverstone; and Jean-Marc Huet, CFO of Unilever.

Re|Source 2012 is a joint initiative hosted by Oxford University and its Smith School of Enterprise and Environment in co-operation with The Rothschild Foundation. Its objective is to reframe the debate about sustainability and growth away from the polarised view that economic growth and commercial success are incompatible.

Re|Source 2012 hopes to spark change by presenting a compelling financial case for solving these issues, exploring viable, commercial and proven solutions towards a sustainable future.