Many countries in the Global South are richly blessed with minerals and natural resources. Despite this, they are extremely poor in terms of human development and rank among the lowest on the Human Development Index. Africa as a whole accounts for approximately 12% of the world’s oil reserves, 40% of its gold, 80-90% of chromium and platinum metals and 85% of phosphate reserves. Still, very little of the profits from the extractive industry tend to stay on the continent.
The export and tax revenues from the extractive sector hold enormous potential to achieve sustainable growth and socio-economic development. But harnessing the benefits remains problematic as exploitative practices of foreign and private investors continue, perpetuating weak governance structures, mismanagement and a lack of transparency and accountability. Poor resource management and inadequate governance structures have also proven to be key ingredients for economic disparity, political instability, violence and conflict.
So what are the necessary measures for countries to draw wealth from natural resources and minerals to reach the breakthrough needed to achieve true sustainable development? And how can resource-rich countries ensure that they emulate a model characterized by responsible financial and natural resource management, contributing to equality and stability- rather than the opposite?
This seminar discussed the following questions:
- How can the Global South best deal with this “resource curse”, and how can sustainable management of resources be ensured?
- What critical factors and mechanisms are needed to achieve a situation where the population benefits from the extractive industry?
- Which are the main factors that create violence and conflict around extractive resources?
- How has the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) and other similar mechanisms been used to strengthen governance in the extractive industry sector?
- Are there countries that have been able to successfully harness the wealth of the natural resources- and how can others follow the same example?
Margot Wallström is a Swedish politician and the former United Nations Secretary General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, a position that gave her firsthand insight into the problems of conflict minerals and extractive resources. Prior to this, she has been a long-serving member of the Swedish parliament and held different ministerial positions in the government. She served as Environmental Commissioner for the European Commission and was also the first elected vice-president of the EC in 2004 under president José Manuel Barroso and served as such until 2010.
Saidou Arji is the West Africa Regional Coordinator for Publish What You Pay, a global network of CSOs united in their call for an open and accountable extractive sector, so that oil, gas and mining revenues improve the lives of the population in resource-rich countries. Saidou has also worked as a Program Officer for ROTAB (Réseau des Organisations pour la Transparence et l’Analyse Budgetaire), which is the Niger PWYP Coalition. Before this, he worked with the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) and Plan Niger for several years.
For further information
The event forms part of the seminar series “After 2015 – The road towards the next global development agenda,” jointly organised by the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation and UNDP Nordic Office. The series is running throughout 2013 and 2014. The next seminar is to take place in September 2014. More information will come after the summer!
For further information, please visit www.millenniemalen.nu or www.dhf.uu.se/after-2015.