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Development Account Projects

Capacity-building and policy networking for sustainable resource-based development

Background:

Relatively few developing countries have successfully used their tradable natural resource sector (timber, oil and gas, and minerals) to achieve diversified growth and sustainable development. Indeed, a growing number of so-called "resource-rich" countries are lagging behind resource-deficient countries in the economic and social sphere, and have accumulated a substantial human capacity deficit. Work undertaken recently in UNCTAD and UNU/WIDER has shown that the development path for "resource-rich" countries can be equally difficult and possibly more complex than for "resource-poor" countries. The situation is particularly complex - and urgent - for countries dependent on the exploitation of non-renewable or depleteable resources. In the long-term context of sustainable development, the major policy challenge for natural resource economies is to exploit their natural capital and associated resource rents in an environmentally sustainable manner in order to enhance human and institutional capacities. In this way, these countries will achieve the transition from rent-based to knowledge-based development, engage more effectively in the process of globalization and be better placed to address the development of other sectors of their economies.

This project will strengthen the capacity of natural resource dependent developing country governments, at the national and local level, to formulate sound policies for sustainable resource-based development and to optimize the use of inputs and expertise from a variety of resource practitioners and other stakeholders. The project will create/strengthen sustainable networking mechanisms and innovative institutional arrangements, supported by modern information and communications technology. Increased access to knowledge by stakeholders, researchers and policy markers, and to each other's experiences, through North-South and South-South partnerships, will be facilitated. Networking arrangements will involve central and local governments, academia, public and private research centers. At the local level, they will improve skills and support a participatory framework for resource development.

Objective:

To enhance the capacity in developing countries, in particular those dependent on non-renewable or depletable natural resources, to devise and sustain a balanced and viable development path over the longer term through a policy-oriented network of academic and development expertise

Expected accomplishments:

  • Formulation of sound policies for sustainable resource-based development
  • Optimization of the use of inputs and expertise from a variety of resource practitioners and other
    stakeholders
  • Increased access to knowledge and best practices through North-South and South-South partnerships

Effects and Impact:

The project established a Latin American network on extractive industries and sustainable development which promotes exchange of information between government officials, academic researchers and industry, provides access to publications, and informs about events; and an African Network on Mining, performing the same services for Africa. A website on good practices in mining was also developed in cooperation with the International Council on Metals and Mining (ICMM), UNEP and the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), which makes available examples, including case studies and legislation, of good practices in areas such as economic development, community relations and environmental management.

Furthermore, the project enhanced institutional linkages at the national and regional level through the training of 190 government officials, academics and NGO representatives at seven workshops and entailed the preparation of training materials on mineral wealth management and on sustainable development of mining dependent areas. The project has allowed government officials in developing countries, who often have scare access to information about ongoing developments and few possibilities to build functioning networks, to access up to date information on best practices, thereby enabling them to take better informed decisions and formulate more effective policies.

As use of the network has grown (the Latin American Website at present receives about 15000 visits per month) a more intensive exchange of experience has allowed government officials to interact with civil society and the enterprise sector and to develop informal partnerships that result in an improvement of the quality of decision making.