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Mineral resource active regions: The need for systems thinking in management

Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ, UK

Energy and mineral resource extraction has fuelled economic development in the modern world but has caused unprecedented environmental destruction. Economically viable to extract resources are not evenly distributed but found in a few regions of the world due to unique geologic characteristics. Inequity in distribution of resource benefits and environmental costs predispose these regions to resource conflict and war. Traditional resource management has failed to address their complexity, with most models utilised lacking multi-disciplinary perspective. Understanding the complexity of these regions is a key prerequisite for their management to be effective and sustainable. Here, we investigate the potential of re-assessing mineral resource active regions from a systems perspective. Findings demonstrate that the application of systems thinking in resource management has the potential to deliver benefits to all stakeholders while maintaining ecological integrity. System tools offer an alternative to the reductionist end-of-pipe thinking of traditional resource management and policies. Rather than simply relying on competition, focusing on the interdependencies between the various players and sectors in these regions can deliver system improvements that should be further investigated because of their potential to deliver integrated and holistic solutions that could benefit all involved.
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