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Abstract With the global population currently at 7 billion and projected to be at least 9 billion by 2050, and an increasing per capita consump- tion, the human demand for the Earth’s natural resources has never been larger. With this human pressure on the Earth’s living eco- systems (e.g. biodiversity) and abiotic resources (e.g. rare Earth metals), the estab-lishment of mechanisms for intra- and inter- generational sharing of essential natural re-sources becomes the greatest challenge to the continued development of all human societies. The primary role of research in developing these mechanisms must be to provide the knowledge neces- sary to underpin sound and responsible decision making. Input from all research disciplines is necessary to provide this knowledge. While the ul-timate goal of research relating to this challenge is to sustain societal develop- ment, at the heart of research focusing on developing more responsible use of natural resources must also be the development of an understanding of societal transformation process-es. A large global market is anticipated for technologies and processes that improve the effi ciency of resource use and/or that can provide substitutes for natural resources un- der pressure. However, transition to sustainable resource use will also require a change in val- ues and thinking. One important contribution Horizon 2020 can make to these processes is to provide means whereby scientists from different academic fi elds are brought to- gether to address possible transitions and how to achieve them. 61


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