Resource governance, geopolitics & social responsibility: the case of phosphorus


3:00-4:30pm Tuesday 2nd June 2015
World Resources Forum Asia-Pacific

University of Technology Sydney (UTS)

Chair: Prof Stuart White, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS

One of the world’s most critical and strategic resources, phosphorus, is also one of the most under-discussed. Without phosphorus, we could not produce food. All nations and farmers need access to phosphorus resources for fertilisers to ensure high crop yields. Like water, oxygen or carbon, there is no substitute for phosphorus in food production. Yet the world’s main source, phosphate rock, is finite and inequitably distributed, both geographically and in terms of access to the resource. Five countries control 85% of remaining phosphate reserves – Morocco alone controls three-quarters. Further, Morocco’s illegal occupation of Western Sahara includes exploitation of the territory’s rich phosphate reserves, while the Saharawi people are being denied their human and legal rights to their land and resources.

Despite the criticality, supply risks and inequity surrounding phosphorus, there is no international or national body taking a leadership role to ensure phosphorus is available and accessible in the long term to feed humanity. Whose responsibility is global phosphorus security? The United Nations? National policy-makers? Fertiliser companies? Investors? Food consumers?

Through a Panel of internationally renowned speakers, this important workshop at the inaugural World Resources Forum Asia-Pacific will surface the issues and impacts of phosphorus geopolitics, governance, equity and social responsibility. The workshop asks:

  • whose responsibility is management of global phosphorus resources?
  • do we need new processes, systems or structures to manage phosphorus?
  • what may be the consequences of not managing it effectively?
  • what can we learn from experience of managing other critical resources?
  • can we identify a way forward for phosphorus

Participants will have the opportunity to interact with Panelists and each other through small groups and plenary settings.