Natural Resource Charter Blog/News

Second Natural Resource Charter Annual Workshop held in Oxford, September 16 and 17

October 12, 2010

Natural Resource Charter Annual Workshop
Building an Informed Consensus
15-16 September, 2010

The annual workshop on the Natural Resource Charter took place over two days in mid-September, 2010. The conference was held at the Department of Economics in Oxford and was hosted by Charter, the Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies (OxCarre) and the Centre for the Study of African Economies. It ran in parallel to OxCarre’s academic conference on ‘the Management of Natural Resource Booms’.

Industry consultants, officials from international financial institutions, civil society groups and NGOs, discussed, critiqued and contributed to the contents of the Charter as well as presenting their findings and experiences. Hailing from across the world - from Trinidad to Indonesia by way of North America and Nigeria – conference participants debated the overarching issues addressed by the Charter and offered detailed amendments to the texts at Charter’s different level of detail on matters ranging from technical matters to questions of tone.

Much new material was gratefully received and incorporated into the living document, and the Charter aims to continue in this fashion.

A New Division of Labor for Development in the 21st Century

September 23, 2010

Declaring that ‘the United States is changing the way we do business’, President Barack Obama announced a ‘new US Global Development Policy – the first of its kind’, to the Millennium Development Goals Summit at UN Headquarters in New York.The US President identified four broad pillars to this new strategy, designed to sustain and exceed the MDGs by unleashing ‘transformational change’. The first two pillars called for a shifting of what he identified as the definition of development, away from aid alone and towards providing a path out of poverty rather than a means of managing it.The third pillar identified ‘broad-based economic growth’ as key to achieving this. Alongside encouraging entrepreneurship and investment in human capital, Obama argued that such growth required ‘governments accountable to their people’, citing the Cardin-Lugar Amendment as a means to this end.‘We are leading a global effort to combat corruption, which in many places is the single greatest barrier to prosperity, and which is a profound violation of human rights. That’s why we now require oil, gas and mining companies that raise capital in the United States to disclose all payments they make to foreign governments. And it’s why I urged the G20 to put corruption on its agenda and make it harder for corrupt officials to steal from their own people and stifle their nation’s development’.The fourth pillar stressed ‘mutual accountability’, calling for ‘more responsibility – from ourselves and from others’. Hailing ‘developing nations [that] have transformed into leaders in the global economy’, the US president called for an end to dependency, asserting that ‘the days when your development was dictated by foreign capitals must come to an end’.Obama also saw a growing, more cooperative role for NGOs, foundations and the private sector which ‘are making historic commitments that have redefined what’s possible’.‘This gives us the opportunity to forge a new division of labor for development in the 21st century. It’s a division of labor where, instead of so much duplication and inefficiency, governments and multilaterals and NGOS are all working together…We can collaborate in ways unimaginable just a few years ago’.

The Natural Resource Charter and EITI: Building the Foundations of Informed Societies

September 23, 2010

November 24th, 2009

Posting at their website, Paul Collier praises the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) as ‘the right point’ in the chain of decisions about natural resources to ‘break the cycle of plunder’. He explains how the Natural Resource Charter is ‘intended to complement EITI in spelling out the entire decision chain by which natural assets can become a blessing instead of a curse’.

‘Harnessing natural resources for the sustained benefit of ordinary citizens requires that an entire chain of decisions, from the discovery process through to the use of revenues, be got right not just once but repeatedly…Both citizens and governments in resource-rich countries need better to understand the sometimes complex issues involved in natural resources’

The hard-won and ongoing success of the EITI provides both a model and an opportunity for complementary efforts at spreading best practice and accountability throughout the natural resource sector.

Guardian Poverty Matters: Fast-tracking progress on the MDGs

September 22, 2010


Commenting on the Millennium Development Goals Summit, Paul Collier and Jamie Drummond argue that, in the face of OECD austerity and faster growth in poorer, resource-rich countries, further progress towards the MDGs requires a global process to bring common standards of integrity to the extractive sector.

‘Previous meetings have been focused on drumming up more aid. Times are doubly inauspicious for such a purpose: in the OECD fiscal deficits are squeezing aid budgets, while in the poorest countries faster growth is enabling governments to finance more from their own revenues…The historical record of resource extraction in these societies is abysmal: money that could have delivered the millennium development goals instead corroded governance’

Cautioning that ‘concern about governance is not a derisory substitute for [aid] but a necessary complement to it’, they argue that whilst ‘such summits should no longer be confined to discussions of aid’, fulfilling aid commitments can also provide a ‘springboard’ to the global spread of best practice. They hail the first steps beyond voluntarism in transparency initiatives and suggest what must follow to secure and build upon such progress.

NYT: The Right Sorts of Arrangements for an Age of Austerity and Interdependence

September 18, 2010

September 18th, 2010

Bono, wearing his hat as a contributing columnist for The New York Times, sees cause for optimism after ten years of the Millennium Development Goals.

However, with a ‘great distance left to travel’, he describes three areas where the most crucial gains can be made in the coming generation: doubling-down on demonstrated successes; addressing governance as a key development multiplier; and ensuring clarity in assessments of development inputs and outputs.

‘The promise we made at the start of this century was not to perpetuate the old relationships between donors and recipients, but to create new ones, with true partners accountable to each other and above all to the citizens these systems are supposed to work for. Strikes me as the right sort of arrangement for an age of austerity as well as interdependence.’

Bono singles out the Cardin-Lugar Amendment as a critical intervention that will bring transparency to the activities of energy companies. He calls on the European Union and the rest of the G-20 to implement similar measures as important first steps.

‘According to the African entrepreneur Mo Ibrahim, who has emerged as one of the most important voices on that continent, transparency could do more to transform Africa than even debt cancellation has. Measures like this one should be central to any renewed Millennium Development Goal strategy.’

CNN article: Can Africa break its 'resource curse'?

August 24, 2010

The following article from CNN explores the challenges facing African governments today: