Natural resources are more often a curse than a blessing for Sub-Saharan countries. Their exploitation is often linked to mismanagement, human rights violations, corruption, and violent conflicts. Governance of natural resources needs to be strengthened if these resources are to contribute to a democratic, sustainable and just development for people in these countries. Against this background the Heinrich Boell Foundation organized an expert workshop on "Resource Governance in Africa in the 21st century" in Berlin from 26-28th March 2007. The workshop aimed at initiating and deepening dialogue between members of civil society groups from all over the world, and to develop a civil society memorandum with recommendations for the German G8 Presidency.
Firstly, existing initiatives and standards were presented and discussed, e.g. the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the Kimberley Process to ban conflict diamonds and the Forest Law Enforcement and Governance Process (FLEG). Moreover, the role of emerging economies (such as China, India, and Brazil) was analysed. These countries are of growing importance; they are now more often investing in the extractive industries and have become more important buyers on international markets in the last years. Therefore they should be asked to join existing initiatives and contribute to responsible governance of natural resources. Finally, possible future enhancements and visions for sustainable governance were discussed. Participants agreed that responsible resource governance is a shared responsibility of producing countries, countries that invest in and buy natural resources as well as multinational corporations. Already existing initiatives mostly operate on a voluntary basis. They are better than the vacuum that existed before. To achieve these aims, however, they must be made more transparent and effective and, in the end, more binding.
The memorandum that was developed by an international drafting group and discussed during the workshop, asks the G8 to address the issue of resource governance more thoroughly and to strengthen its dialogue with emerging economies as well as producing countries. Moreover, the memorandum develops a number of concrete proposals to improve existing initiatives. It will be presented to the public on the occasion of the African Partnership Forum in Berlin in May. (Melanie Zimmer, Peace Research Institute Frankfurt)
For more information, please see http://www.boell.de/g8
Published in: ECC-Newsletter, April 2007