To have and have not: resource governance in the 21st century

Chandran Nair was a drafting team member of "To Have And Have Not: reseource governance in the 21st century".

A global civil society coalition has sought to inject fresh thinking on managing natural resources into the highest level of international debate – the G8 Summit.

A German-based green political foundation, the Heinrich Boell Foundation, together with the German Federal Minister for Economic Co-operation and Development, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, unveiled a memorandum that outlines the challenges of resource governance this century and submitted it to the G8 Summit when it was in session in Germany in June.

GIFT founder and chief executive Chandran Nair helped draft “To Have And Have Not: resource governance in the 21st century”. He was invited by the Foundation to provide a business and an international point of view to the assembled global representatives of NGOs.

Mr Nair’s long career in business was capped by his founding and building the leading environmental resources consultancy in the Asia Pacific, ERM. He advises corporations and governments on doing business in Asia and on leadership development, sustainability, and corporate social responsibility. Speaking engagements continue to take him all over the world.

The memorandum was submitted during the summit at Heiligendamm, which ran from June 6 to 8. The Foundation joined other German organisations in taking advantage of their country’s presidency of the G8 to press positions on a range of issues drawing on international inputs.

Heinrich Boell president Barbara Unmuessig said, “A responsible approach to dealing with natural resources is now part of the agenda of the G8 states. From our perspective, there has been a lack of real reform strategies. It is not sufficient to symbolically repeat support for already agreed upon standards and voluntary commitments. It is necessary to create a set of binding rules, which have to be negotiated with all the relevant parties – including emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil.”

"Resource curse"
The memorandum was a push by civil society to make a strong, tangible contribution to the political debate on managing natural resource wealth, she said.

One focus of the memorandum is "resource curse", a phenomenon whereby countries rich in natural resources very often suffer from low economic development, corruption, human rights violations, and high levels of conflict. Nor do these countries succeed in using their wealth in natural resources to develop sustainably. Elites benefit at the expense of the broader population, often left to suffer. Africa is particularly affected in these ways but is not alone, with countries in Asia and Latin America suffering under similar conditions.

The Foundation’s primary objective, as outlined on its website, is “to support political education both within Germany and abroad, thus promoting democratic involvement, socio-political activism, and cross-cultural understanding. [It] also provides support for art and culture, science and research, and developmental co-operation. Its activities are guided by the fundamental political values of ecology, democracy, solidarity, and non-violence.”