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Resources 2018, 7(4), 79; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources7040079

Critical Natural Resources: Challenging the Current Discourse and Proposal for a Holistic Definition

1
Department of Physical Geography, Environment and Resource Dynamics Group, Stockholm University, 114 19 Stockholm, Sweden
2
Environment and Natural Resources Programme, Faculty of Engineering, University of Iceland, 101 Reykjavik, Iceland
3
Environment and Natural Resources Programme, Faculty of Political Science, University of Iceland, 101 Reykjavik, Iceland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 25 October 2018 / Revised: 22 November 2018 / Accepted: 28 November 2018 / Published: 1 December 2018
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Abstract

Studies on critical natural resources have grown in number over the last decade out of concern for resource availability and its potential impacts. Nonetheless, only a handful of studies explicitly define criticality for natural resources. Through a systematic literature review, we identified four main perspectives in the descriptions of critical natural resources: (1) economic importance is overemphasized at the expense of sociocultural and ecosystem support functions of natural resources; (2) a Western perspective dominates the research discourse; (3) apart from the field of economics, the debate lacks input from social sciences; and (4), non-renewable resources are overrepresented compared to renewables. Based on the current discourse and its apparent inclinations, we propose a new definition of criticality for natural resources aligned with risk theory. We argue for the need to balance out the perspectives described above to provide decision-makers with impartial information for the sustainable management of natural resources. View Full-Text
Keywords: critical; criticality; definition; natural capital; natural resources; raw materials; systematic mapping critical; criticality; definition; natural capital; natural resources; raw materials; systematic mapping
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Schellens, M.K.; Gisladottir, J. Critical Natural Resources: Challenging the Current Discourse and Proposal for a Holistic Definition. Resources 2018, 7, 79.

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