Scarcity: New normal
Three billion new people will join the global middle class in the next two decades. The resulting consumption boom will drive natural-resource prices higher, opening space for companies that learn to use resources more efficiently. By 2030 resource productivity opportunities worldwide will total $2.9 trillion, according to the McKinsey Global Institute. Opportunities include reducing food waste, deploying efficient irrigation systems, and improving the energy efficiency of buildings. Many Global 500 members stand to benefit, from agriculture players like Archer Daniels Midland (No. 92) to engineering giants such as Mitsubishi (No. 115).

This story is from the July 23, 2012 issue of Fortune.
By Richard McGill Murphy, contributor @CNNMoney - Last updated July 09 2012: 8:06 AM ET
Join the Conversation
And the world's biggest companies are...

Royal Dutch Shell tops the Fortune Global 500, ending Wal-Mart's two-year winning streak.