What is the definition of a natural resource?

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I have a question about nomenclature related to resources and commodities. Am I right to say that a natural resource is something that is not refined or changed and sold on as a resource. Am I then also right to say that a commodity is a refined natural resource or product?

If possible could you folks better describe the raw product that comes from the ground as sold, vs the raw product that is transformed (in some way) then sold?

I think of wheat as a resource. I think of cereal as a commodity. Is that right?


Here is a definition that I found on an OECD website https://stats.oecd.org/glossary/detail.asp?ID=1740. It is as good as any definition I have seen.

The naturally occurring assets that provide use benefits through the provision of raw materials and energy used in economic activity (or that may provide such benefits one day) and that are subject primarily to quantitative depletion through human use. They are subdivided into four categories: mineral and energy resources, soil resources, water resources and biological resources.

Also, here is an excerpt from an environmental economics book that offers a short discussion of nomenclature in the context of natural resource economics. (PDF)

Wheat and cereal are agricultural products. Neither is naturally occurring and therefore neither is a natural resource.

Answered by:
Dr. Quinn Weninger
John F. Timmons Professor of Environmental and Resource Economics