Editors' Note

Pages:2-2
 
CONTENT
high-value resources such as oil and diamonds. Instead, scholars
are now turning their attention to conflicts emerging from water
disputes. For example, conflicts have arisen over water use in
Central Asia, stemming from long-term overexploitation and
mismanagement. As fresh water resources increase in scarcity,
this new “liquid gold” only amplifies the potential for conflict.4
This issue of Sustainable Development Law & Policy seeks
to facilitate the discussion and understanding of important
developments surrounding natural resources and their relation-
ship to various types of conflicts. Our aim is to encourage further
integration of sustainable development principles within existing
and emerging legal and policy frameworks. The management
and governance of natural resources exert a significant influence
upon the fundamental survival and security of multiple stake-
holders who live near, rely on, or benefit from those resources.
Resource development decision-making must take into account
relevant environmental, social, and political factors if the inter-
national environmental and legal communities are to minimize
and ultimately thwart natural resource conflicts.
2SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT LAW & POLICY
In October 2011 the human population of our planet officially
reached the high-water mark of seven billion.1 According to
the World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Index, the current
rate of consumption will see demand for two planets’ worth of
natural resources by 2030.2 With this increasing demand and the
continued development of virtually every corner of the globe,
the finite nature of the Earth’s resources presents a sobering real-
ity. Through human ingenuity, industry now attempts to supple-
ment scarce resources through research and development of
synthetic and other alternatives. However, a simple, stark fact
remains: certain resources such as water, timber, and land are
fundamental and aboriginal as the basic elements for human
survival. As the demand for natural resources rises in a finite
sphere, allocation, distribution, management, and governance of
these natural resources must be scrutinized. And at the core of
any such critique must be the availability of the natural resources
themselves.
This issue on Natural Resource Conflicts examines current
contestations arising out of the use, distribution, and governance
of these finite resources. We survey the globe, exploring the
causes and implications of individual and localized conflicts with
the ultimate goal of providing viable and successful resolutions.
Through the analysis of land-based conflicts centered upon the
public lands of the American West, participatory and collabora-
tive management is heralded as one potentially effective method
of resolving these disputes. Left unresolved, disputes over natu-
ral resources can escalate into public demonstrations and even
armed conflicts. For example, where the imbalance of water
rights distribution in Latin America favors elites and private
corporations, neglected rural and indigenous communities have
taken to mass protests. In the resource-rich African continent,
natural resources, including petroleum and rare earth minerals,
have both catalyzed and fueled violent armed conflicts.3 Only by
carefully probing and dissecting these conflicts can we hope to
curb such ghastly consequences.
Here at home, highly contested domestic policy debates
center around petroleum extraction, especially in the American
Southwest. However, the conversation is not limited to traditional
EDITORS’ NOTE
FEATURES:
12 | WATER CRISIS IN THE MURRAY-DARLING BASIN:
AUSTRALIA ATTEMPTS TO BALANCE AGRICULTURAL
NEED WITH ENVIRONMENTAL REALITY
by Joshua Axelrod
18 | THE REAL COST OF CHINAS RARE EARTH EXPORT
QUOTAS ON AMERICAN JOB SECURITY
by Katherine Weatherford
23 | WEAK PLANNING PROCESS FRUSTRATES PROTECTION
OF PUERTO RICOS THREATENED COASTLINE
by Mark Borak
31 | A CASE FOR THE UNITED STATES OPPOSITION OF
INTERNATIONAL AND DOMESTIC COAL SUBSIDIES
by Josh Fieldstone
40 | THE ARCTIC COUNCIL: GATEKEEPER OR DOORMAT
TO THE WORLDS NEXT MAJOR RESOURCE BATTLE?
by Oded Cedar
1 Haya El Nasser, World Population Hits 7 Billion, USATODAY (Oct.
30, 2011), http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/story/2011-10-30/world-
population-hits-seven-billion/51007670/1.
2 WORLD WILDLIFE FUND, LIVING PLANET REPORT 2010 (2010), http://www.
footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/living_planet_report_20101.
3 Rising Energy Use: Overview, W R I, http://www.
wri.org/publication/content/8332 (last visited Dec. 20, 2011).
4 See generally Alexander Carius et al., Water Conlict and Cooperation, in
E C  S P R 102004), http://
www.unep.org/dnc/Portals/155/dnc/docs/ecp/ecspr10_unf-caribelko.pdf.