The volume of natural resources traded globally has increased over 60% since the turn of the century, reflecting new economic and geopolitical realities and bringing new environmental and social challenges – as well as opportunities. Now everyone can explore these fast-evolving dynamics through Chatham House’s comprehensive and accessible data available in our new major interactive website resourcetrade.earth.

The volume of natural resources traded globally has increased over 60% since the turn of the century, reflecting new economic and geopolitical realities and bringing new environmental and social challenges – as well as opportunities. 

Visit our new major website resourcetrade.earth

The website’s interactive visualizations allow users to interrogate resource trade flows between more than 200 countries and territories since the year 2000, by monetary value and by weight. Starting with data from the United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database (UN Comtrade), resourcetrade.earth reconciles importer and exporter reports of trade in over 1,350 resource products, and reorganizes these in a natural resource hierarchy, permitting users to easily query data at varying degrees of granularity and aggregation. A range of social and environmental indicators also contextualize the importance of resource trade to sustainable development trajectories.
 

Video: Introducing resourcetrade.earth

Why now?

The markets for critical resources have always been political.  But the political economy of natural resources is increasingly shaped by the large, structural shifts under way in the world – whether in the changing natural environment, in the deepening interrelationship between resource systems and actors, or in the rebalancing of global income and power. As an engine of globalization, trade continues to lie at the heart of challenges to rules-based governance of natural resources. At the same time, misperceptions around natural resources risk fueling tensions and undermining global cooperation on environmental issues.

More than ever, the facts around global resources need to be understood so that informed decisions regarding resource use are made. resourcetrade.earth gives policymakers, businesses, civil society and journalists a powerful tool to assess the growing impacts of resource production, consumption and trade on the environment and sustainable development. 

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The data

The original source of the data is from UN Comtrade and is arguably the most comprehensive source of merchandise trade statistics available: volumetric and monetary value data are catalogued under more than 5,000 HS product codes, and the monetary values of trades are available as far back as 1962. However, it does present several challenges for users focusing on resource trade, not least:

  • The scale hinders simple queries: with over 3 billion trade records since 1962, finding the right data is not always easy and the size of data queries can be difficult to manage
  • The product-based taxonomy makes tracking natural resource trade challenging

For over 1,350 natural resources and resource-based intermediate- and by-products, resourcetrade.earth reconciles these trade flows into a resource-based hierarchy encompassing agricultural, fishery and forestry products, fossil fuels, metals and other minerals, and pearls and gemstones. 

Additionally, expert analysis and insights on different facets of resource trade and its interdependencies will increasingly feature on resourcetrade.earth.

 

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