Conference | Extractive Industries and Local Governance in Developing Countries: Successes and Challenges

On 18 January 2016, scholars  from Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America joined Swiss-based NGO and private sector representatives at the Graduate Institute, Geneva, to discuss issues of accountability, governance, growth and transparency in the extractive sector.IMG_3886

Extractive industries play an important role in resource-rich developing countries. Natural resource extraction makes a significant contribution to GDP and government revenue in such countries. However, there are many risks associated with resource dependence including commodity price volatility, lack of transparency and corruption, environmental degradation, displacement of communities and labour rights violations, which can outweigh the economic benefits. 

Key questions addressed at the conference include:

  • What policy measures can be used to strengthen the local governance of extractive industries?
  • What can be done to reduce the risk of extractive industries causing enclave economies?
  • What measures can be taken to minimise negative social and environmental impacts and promote inclusive and sustainable development?
  • What local governance strategies have been used in specific contexts to overcome the risks and enable natural wealth to improve people’s lives.

In the first panel, Carlos Monge, Director for Latin America, Natural Resource Governance Institute (Peru), and Dario Restrepo, Researcher, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, looked at the recent resource boom cycle in Latin America. Their findings reveal a general consensus under which countries, regardless of their different ideological traditions and policy positions, focus economic activity on resource extraction alongside a tendency towards political centralisation. Neil Renwick, Professor of Global Security, Coventry University (UK), completed the picture providing insights on South-East Asia and, more specifically, Myanmar.IMG_3898

In the second panel, Patricia Vasquez, Research Associate at the Graduate Institute’s Centre on Conflict Development and Peacebuilding, proposed and critically discussed four ways to improve the local governance of extractive industries: integrating oil and gas revenues into the local development agenda; adopting effective mechanisms for ensuring effective consultation and transparency in relation to the use of revenues coming from the extractive sector; incorporating mechanisms to ensure that local communities benefit from natural resource development; and securing the integration of the producing area to the larger national economy.

Drawing extensively from her field work in South Sudan, Raphaëlle Chevrillon, Researcher, Institut de recherche pour le développement, Paris, explained how economic actors and Sudanese authorities negotiate new opportunities offered, and constraints imposed, by the exploitation of the country’s natural resources.

Finally, several scholars joined Christine Batruch, Vice-President Corporate Responsibility, Lundin Petroleum, and Chantal Peyer, Team Leader Business and Human Rights, Bread for All, for a a lively round table on the theme of « The Local Governance of Extractive Booms and Busts: Perspectives from Africa, Asia and Latin America ».

The papers presented will be available soon on our website as contributions to the e-journal. Follow us on this blog and our social media for updates (facebook.com/DevPolJournal/twitter.com/DevPolJournal).


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