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Anaya: Is natural resource development a blessing, a 'quick-fix, ' or a curse?

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    ... From: Jamie Kneen To: Protecting Knowledge list Sent: Tuesday, October 01, 2013 11:19 AM Subject: [PK] Anaya: Is natural resource development a blessing, a
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 1, 2013
       
      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Tuesday, October 01, 2013 11:19 AM
      Subject: [PK] Anaya: Is natural resource development a blessing, a 'quick-fix, ' or a curse?

       

      "The reasons for the resource curse frequently boils down to one simple
      problem: this business model does not recognise the rights of the
      indigenous peoples and local communities living on the land in
      question." - United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of
      Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya

      http://unsr.jamesanaya.org/opinions/is-natural-resource-development-a-blessing-a-quick-fix-or-a-curse

      Is natural resource development a blessing, a 'quick-fix,' or a curse?
      19 September 2013

      Geneva, Switzerland - Economic development is widely assumed to bring
      the blessings of higher standards of living and to be a quick fix for
      cash poor countries. However, there are many who look at economic
      development and instead consider it to be a curse in the "global south"
      - South America, Africa, and Asia - and also in parts of the more
      industrialised world where indigenous peoples live.

      All too often, development projects consist of a private, multinational
      enterprise working with a national or local government to obtain access
      to a natural resource, extract it, and then transport it elsewhere for
      processing. Residents of the country have access to the extraction jobs
      but processing, manufacturing and other higher-paying jobs that require
      technical skills are cultivated elsewhere. At the same time, profits
      from the project largely do not reach the people who bear the brunt of
      its environmental and health impacts.

      Economists have examined countries relying on natural resource exports
      for economic growth found that the higher the reliance, the slower the
      growth. Even worse, this development model often leads to greater
      corruption and inequality. The typical government-business transactions
      that provide access to these resources have been referred to
      collectively as the "resource curse," an oft-cited yet oft-ignored point
      that applies to many different sectors of natural resources, from
      minerals to forest products to raw food staples such as palm oil.

      A faulty business model

      The reasons for the resource curse frequently boils down to one simple
      problem: this business model does not recognise the rights of the
      indigenous peoples and local communities living on the land in question.
      I am referring to the indigenous inhabitants of the Amazon, for example,
      or other communities like them throughout the world where the
      government's claim ownership of the land and the right to give away the
      resources as they deem best, and too many private enterprises are
      willing to play along.

      However, the land is not empty and the communities that are there were
      established generations if not hundreds of years ago. In the case of
      indigenous peoples, their connections to the land invariably have a
      longer history than the government deciding what to do with the land.
      According to the Rights and Resources Initiative, ownership of roughly
      one-half of the global south is contested, directly affecting the lives
      and livelihoods of over two billion people. This is no surprise, since
      over sixty percent of the developing world's forests are administered by
      governments - who all too often give it away for pennies per hectare,
      for the sake of "quick-fix" development.

      The tragedy is that resource deals in the developing world often target
      the very people that rely on the land for their survival. They are often
      deprived of their property, the crops that feed their families, and the
      forests and land that support their livelihoods without being fully
      incorporated into the decision-making process.

      Deprived of participation and self-determination these folks see their
      forests and fields quickly shorn of forests, biodiversity and wildlife,
      destroying their own hope for meaningful economic development and
      undermining their distinctive cultures.

      For an example, consider the push for alternative fuels to help slow
      climate change, which has led to large-scale biofuel plantations. When a
      previously forested landscape is cleared to plant jatropha or other
      biofuel vegetation, emissions result from the industrial clear-cutting
      methods as well as the decomposition of the plants and woods. It takes
      decades for the emissions savings from biofuels to compensate for
      tree-clearing - and if peatland is cleared and drained, it takes
      centuries. This is not sustainable, and it harms the people whose
      material welfare and cultural patterns depend upon the land and its
      resources.

      Role of the media

      As a United Nations investigator, I have travelled the world and seen
      first-hand how these issues play out. Time and time again, I find that
      the attention brought by the spotlight of media coverage keeps all
      stakeholders honest and helps them act in a more responsible and
      sustainable manner.

      But what keeps me up at night is when there is no spotlight - where
      resource transactions run roughshod over the people whose very existence
      is seen to stand in the way of progress. Protests, whether through legal
      action or street theatre, have few teeth when they can be disregarded
      without worry. And the transgressions and human rights violations that
      take place in the dark are unfathomable; one estimate found that the
      global rate in which activists were murdered doubled between 2002 and
      2011, and now exceeds two deaths a week.

      We as a global society are at a moment, however, where we can turn the
      page and write a new story of development, one in which the blessings of
      the land are shared equitably. The United Nations is leading the
      negotiations for new Sustainable Development Goals, which will guide
      economic development and poverty reduction for the next 15 years. These
      goals should include targets for the recognition of land rights that
      include rights based on traditional use and occupancy; this would direct
      attention and much-needed funding to ensure that economic development
      works to genuinely benefit Indigenous Peoples and the local communities
      that are on the front lines of natural resource exploitation.

      Notably, industry, governments, Indigenous Peoples, and civil society
      are starting to work together to shape a shared vision in these
      negotiations. Their coordination - which will be advanced at a strategy
      conference in Interlaken, Switzerland this week - holds the promise to
      answer their shared problems of insecure land rights and contested
      ownership.

      We have always viewed the natural resources of the Earth to be a
      blessing, yet the history of "resource development" on the lands of
      Indigenous Peoples mostly speaks to the paradigm of the resource curse.
      It is time to embrace the land and its bounty like they do, transforming
      development so that all can share in its wealth.

      James Anaya is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of
      Indigenous Peoples. He recently completed a report for the UN Human
      Rights Council on "Extractive Industries and Indigenous Peoples",
      available at http://unsr.jamesanaya.org.

      19/09/2013

      Source:
      http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/09/201391910579738135.html
      --

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