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This series present internationally-agreed policy guidelines and suggestions from the OECD Development Assistance Committee.
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Natural Resources and Pro-Poor Growth

Natural Resources and Pro-Poor Growth

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27 Jan 2009
9789264060258 (PDF) ;9789264041820(print)

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This publication demonstrates that natural resources can contribute to growth, employment, exports and fiscal revenues in low-income countries, where natural capital constitutes a quarter of total wealth. It highlights the importance of policies encouraging the sustainable management of these resources. Moreover, it emphasises the need to address the political challenges of natural-resource management for long-term pro-poor economic growth. Part I provides an overview of the economics and politics of natural resources. It describes the unique features of natural resources and resulting management challenges, the role of sustainable natural resource management in supporting pro-poor growth, and the politics and governance of natural resources. It then offers recommendations for policy makers on how to support the approaches advocated in the paper. Part II examines these issues with respect to seven specific natural-resource sectors: fisheries, forests, wildlife and ecotourism, soil productivity, water security, minerals and renewable energy.

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  • Natural Resources and Pro-Poor Growth
    Natural resources can generate and sustain growth, thereby reducing poverty and supporting the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It is therefore urgent to improve natural resource management for long-term pro-poor economic growth, i.e. a pace and pattern of growth that enhances the ability of poor women and men to participate in, contribute to and benefit from growth.
  • Introduction
    Generating pro-poor growth is key to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). While it is true that the proportion of the world’s poor living in towns and cities is gradually rising, three-quarters of all poor people still live in rural areas. The modest pace of urbanisation and current forecasts for urban population growth imply that most of the world’s poor will still live in rural areas for many decades to come (Ravallion et al., 2007).
  • Some Unique Features of Natural Resources
    This chapter provides an overview of some of the unique features of natural resources that pose challenges to their effective management. These include the varied forms and functions of natural capital (renewable vs. non-renewable), constraints of measuring and monitoring, the natural resource curse, "dead end" natural resources, "low tech" natural resources, vulnerability to boom and bust cycles and the risk of the natural resource curse.
  • The Economics of Sustainable Natural Resource Management
    This chapter provides an overview of policies and investments that can support pro-poor natural resource management and contribute to sustainable pro-poor economic growth. It focuses on issues related to production, employment creation, export revenues and the generation of national fiscal resources.
  • Politics of Natural Resources
    "As we progressively understood the causes of environmental degradation, we saw the need for good governance. Indeed, the state of any country’s environment is a reflection of the kind of governance in place, and without good governance there can be no peace. Many countries, which have poor governance systems, are also likely to have conflicts and poor laws protecting the environment." Wangari Maathai, President, Greenbelt Movement, Kenya; Nobel Prize Winner.
  • Conclusions and Recommendations for Policy Makers
    This chapter advocates and elaborates the following three-fold approach to ensuring that natural resource management contributes to pro-poor growth:
    1. Providing development co-operation support for improved natural resource management.
    2. Enhanced policy coherence for development.
    3. Negotiating pro-poor multilateral environmental agreements.
  • Fisheries for Pro-Poor Growth
    This chapter provides an overview of the institutional and political dimensions of sustaining fisheries for pro-poor growth. It emphasizes that institutional capacities and incentives to encourage the right investment choices are essential to ensure that fisheries safeguard fish resources while simultaneously securing livelihoods and generating wealth, which can be re-invested in the economy and used as a basis for economic growth and poverty reduction.
  • Forestry for Pro-Poor Growth
    The forest industry is a major source of growth and employment. In many countries the sector contributes more than 10% to GDP and provides formal and informal employment in developing countries for an estimated 40 to 60 million people. Many developing countries also rely on timber for export earnings. Over 90% of people living in extreme poverty depend on forests for some part of their livelihoods (World Bank, 2004a). But global forest cover has been reduced by at least 20% since pre-agricultural times. While forest area has increased slightly since 1980 in industrial countries, it has declined by almost 10% in developing countries (WRI, 2000).
  • Wildlife and Nature-Based Tourism for Pro-Poor Growth
    Wildlife performs an important safety net role for many poor people, e.g. providing food, fibre and medicines, and can also be a source of wealth creation. An estimated 150 million people (one-eighth of the world’s poorest) perceive wildlife to be an important livelihood asset (African Conservation, 2003).
  • Soil Productivity and Pro-Poor Growth
    This chapter and the next, on water security and pro-poor growth, are fundamentally different from the others in that they do not concern natural resources which can provide direct sources of income, but rather resources that underpin the production of a wide range of agricultural and industrial goods and services. The contribution of soil and water resources to pro-poor growth is indirect. It can only be derived from the importance of the many sectors that rely directly on soil and water productivity as inputs, in particular into agriculture.
  • Water Security and Pro-Poor Growth
    This chapter and the previous one, on soil productivity and pro-poor growth, are fundamentally different from the other chapters in that they do not concern natural resources as commodities but rather as resources that underlie the production of agricultural and industrial goods and services. The importance of the contribution of water resources to pro-poor growth can only be derived from the importance of the many sectors that directly rely on water productivity as an input into other sectors such as not only irrigated agriculture, energy, and industry, but also the domestic and environmental "sectors".
  • Minerals and Pro-Poor Growth
    Rising demand for mineral resources from fast-growing markets in Asia has contributed to a surge in mineral prices over the past five years. This is particularly true of metals such as aluminium, nickel, copper and zinc. The boom in mineral commodity prices has highlighted the impact of mineral exploitation on development processes. Yet mineral markets are volatile and the contribution of mining activities to positive long-term development outcomes, such as the attainment of the MDGs and sustainable development, during this period of opportunity has never been under closer scrutiny.
  • Renewable Energy and Pro-Poor Growth
    Access to energy is one of the keys to development and economic growth, as it provides light and heat, and powers productive machinery and telecommunication equipment. Yet in spite of admirable accomplishments in providing energy for human purposes, it is increasingly clear that current systems are unable to provide energy to all people in a sustainable and affordable way. It is estimated that 1.6 billion people (Flavin and Aeck, 2005; ITDG, 2004) do not have access to modern forms of energy, most of them living in rural areas in developing countries, far from centralised energy systems. Fossil fuel-based energy systems also contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Hence recognition is growing that new patterns of energy supply and consumption are needed to move towards more sustainable development.
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