From Fragility to Resilience: Managing Natural Resources in Fragile Situations in Africa

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In Africa, natural resource sectors generate approximately one-third of growth in gross domestic product, serving as a foundation for employment, food security, and development. For example, when oil was discovered off the coast of São Tomé, the government received a signing bonus of approximately USD $100 million, more than twice its annual budget. Unfortunately, natural resources have also fi nanced or been a contributing cause of at least 14 confl icts in Africa countries in fragile situations. Natural resources are therefore both a driver of conflict, if mismanaged, and a source of resilience, if managed well.

Several major global declarations and reports over the past fi fteen years recognize the potential of natural resource management to strengthen resilience in fragile situations. These include reports on peacebuilding by the United Nations Secretary-General in 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2014; the 2015 report by the United Nations Secretary-General’s High Level Independent Panel on UN Peace Operations; and the 2015 report of the Advisory Group of Experts on the Review of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture. The 2011 Busan New Deal, which was endorsed by the Bank, articulates a vision focusing on countries transitioning out of fragility to resilience, and many of the New Deal’s objectives rely on effective natural resource management.

With this Flagship Report, the Bank is helping to develop a detailed understanding of the dynamics of natural resource management in fragile situations in Africa. Building on that understanding, the Report identifi es and analyzes region-specifi c opportunities for action. In providing this vision, the Report helps to operationalize the principles outlined in the global documents, reflecting the priorities, capacities, and perspectives of African countries and institutions.

Fragility spans a broad spectrum that is varied in geographic scope and frequency of confl ict, ranging from declared hostilities between warring parties to established states that experience sporadic violence. It can also be triggered by a failed or a fl awed election, an attempt to modify the constitution for selfi sh political gains, a natural disaster and/or a health epidemic. These explain the Bank’s decision to move from the concept of fragile states to countries in fragile situations or countries in transition. Accordingly, the approaches to natural resource management described in the Report are broadly relevant to all states seeking to transition from fragility towards resilience.

Prepared jointly with the Environmental Law Institute (ELI), this Flagship Report aims to improve the conceptualization, development, and implementation of confl ict-sensitive projects and programs in Africa.

It seeks to inform representatives from regional member countries, Bank staff, and other partners. The Report represents an important step in mainstreaming both fragility and natural resource management into Africa’s development process.

I would like to thank the ELI, Bank staff as well as everyone else who has contributed in one way or the other to the success of this Flagship Report.

I encourage you to read both the summary and the full report.

Sibry J.M. Tapsoba,
Director, Transition Support Department,
African Development Bank Group