The “resource curse" describes the paradox where countries rich in oil, gas, and minerals remain largely impoverished. Better transparency—both in how governments spend extractive revenues and how natural resource decisions are made—could help tackle this problem. While some new initiatives are making progress on this front, more needs to be done to ensure that drilling and mining doesn’t come at the expense of communities and the land, water, and wildlife they rely on.
Transformation is a word we use so often in our daily lives that it seems strange to stop and think about what it really means. But in adaptation circles, the definition and role of transformation has recently become a hot topic of conversation, in part because transformational change was an important theme of the recent IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability.
The UN has announced that March 21 be recognized as the International Day of Forests. In tandem with the celebration of forests worldwide, is an awareness that we are still losing forests and trees much faster than they can regrow.
Many people are working to reverse tree cover loss in the world’s largest remaining forests. But several hugely important deforestation hotspots are still flying under the radar. These forest areas are seeing alarming trends and/or have lost much of their tree cover. We are using the latest data from Global Forest Watch, an online forest monitoring and alert system, to dive deeper into some under-reported deforestation hotspots.
Experts recently said that 20 million people in Africa's Sahel will face hunger this year, requiring $2 billion in food aid. The question is: Can the Sahel cost-effectively and sustainably increase food production?
Alex Doukas discusses outcomes of a financing clean energy access workshop in Africa, and how social entrepreneurs could be part of the clean power solution.
Many countries in Africa are rich with trees, wildlife, minerals, and other natural resources. But as new WRI research and an interactive map show, few national laws provide communities with strong, secure rights to the resources on their land.
WRI conducted a systematic review of the national framework laws for five natural resources—water, trees, wildlife, minerals, and petroleum—in 49 sub-Saharan African countries. The results are presented in our new Rights to Resources map.
The Rights to Resources interactive map presents information on citizen and community rights to natural resources in sub-Saharan Africa.
In much of Africa, the bundle of land rights that most rural people legally hold is relatively small—usually limited to surface rights and certain rights to some natural resources on and below the surface, such as rights to water for domestic use. Many high-value natural resources—such as oil, natural gas, minerals, and wildlife—are governed by separate legal regimes and administered by different public institutions. Africa’s governments often allocate these rights to outside, commonly foreign companies for large-scale operations. In other words, while many communities hold rights to the land, foreign companies hold the rights to the natural resources on or under the same plot. These overlapping rights oftentimes lead to conflict, unsustainable use of resources, and injustices.
The World Bank endorsed Ghana’s Forest Investment Plan in November 2012, approving a $50 million package that can restore forests, improve the country’s water supply, and provide better quality-of-life for communities. An analysis by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Centre for Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Services (CERSGIS), WRI, and other partners was instrumental in making this breakthrough program come to fruition.
Most of the original forests in Ghana have been degraded or converted into agricultural lands. In order to avoid further deforestation, Ghana proposed a $50 million plan to the World Bank’s Climate Investment Funds. However, the World Bank declined to endorse the plan, arguing that it wouldn’t generate sufficient impact. The plan did not have any component for the restoration of forest and landscapes.
Meanwhile, IUCN, CERSGIS, and WRI had spent two years developing and applying a method to evaluate national forest and landscape restoration opportunities, supported by the World Bank Program on Forests (Profor) and the German International Climate Initiative. They found that Ghana had large-scale opportunities to capture carbon and improve quality-of-life through agroforestry, improved treatment of fallow land, and other measures.
The Government of Ghana and the World Bank incorporated the results of this restoration analysis into a revised plan. The addition of this evidence-based, well-argued restoration component persuaded the World Bank to green-light the Forest Investment Plan.
The $50 million investment will not only make Ghana a pioneer in restoring degraded lands to mitigate climate change, it can significantly improve the lives of the country’s rural populations. Restoring landscapes for agriculture, conservation, and other purposes can yield better harvests, improved water supplies, ecosystem services, jobs, and more.
WRI is currently working with IUCN and local partners as part of the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration, continuing its engagement in Ghana and conducting similar national assessments in Brazil and Rwanda. The aim is to meet the Bonn Challenge, an ambitious, international goal to initiate restoration on 150 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2020.