Dr Elias T. Ayuk, out-going Director, United Nations University-Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA), has underscored the importance of mineral resources as a critical foundation for social and economic development.

Dr Ayuk said there were many linkages between the mining sector and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically goals 1, 8, 9 and 12.

He projected a global increase in demand for metals and minerals, even with progress towards a circular economy, towards 2050.

He noted, however, that with a plethora of instruments/initiatives (88+) covering multi-scales— most of which are voluntary, resulting in expensive and low compliance— governing the mining sector today had become complex and quite inefficient.

Dr Ayuk said the governance space was made of many actors, spatial boundaries, power relationships and normative framework.

He said the complex array of governance frameworks and initiatives had created the necessary conditions for a new mineral resource governance framework, adding that it was a global responsibility to devise that new framework.

He noted that although no perfect system of governance was feasible, a convergence of different interests should be sought by moving from focus at local level to a more global approach and strengthening host countries’ fiscal, revenue management and public investment capacities.

The new governance framework, Dr Ayuk said, should address tax evasion and illicit financial flows, co-ordinate the implementation of transparency and accountability agenda, explore opportunities to bolster long-run stability and encourage innovative co-operation between resource exporters and the international community.

Dr Ayuk, whose eight-year, two-term tenure as Director of UNU-INRA, has ended, was delivering a farewell lecture in Accra on Thursday, September 27, 2018.
The theme for the lecture was Mineral Resources Governance for Sustainable Development—A New Framework.

The out-going UNU-INRA Director said due to fragmentation and initiative fatigue, there was the pressing need to consolidate existing governance instruments as well as identify links between initiatives and consolidate them.

He identified holistic approach; protection of the environment; respect for human rights (indigenous groups and the vulnerable (youth and women); greater engagement of the home/producer countries; responsible business practices; balance between security of supply concerns versus sustainable development aspirations; and data, information and knowledge  as critical building blocks for a governance framework/instrument for the extractive sector.

He disclosed that the International Resource Panel was proposing a new framework called the ‘Sustainable Development Licence to Operate (SDLO) that builds upon the ‘social license to operate’ paradigm.

Dr Ayuk said SDLO constituted a new multi-level holistic and integrated governance framework applicable to governments, companies and the broader range of stakeholders in the extractive industry.

He said the SDLO framework sought to integrate local, national and international governance issues and to move away from charity-driven corporate social responsibility.

He said SDLO articulated governance issues across the whole extractive value chain, adding that it was not a substitute for laws and regulations, but made a strong case for policies, laws and regulations to respond to shared visions and fully aligned to national development plans and aspirations in a coherent manner.

In her remarks, Ms Christine Evans-Klock, United Nations Resident Co-ordinator in Ghana, commended Dr Ayuk for a successful tenure and pledged the commitment of the UN system to partnering UNU-INRA in the realization of the goals and objectives for which it was established.

In a statement, Dr Fatima Denton, in-coming Director, UNU-INRA, congratulated Dr Ayuk for a successful tenure and tremendous contributions to putting INRA on the map, and pledged to build on his impressive work and lasting legacy. Dr Denton noted that Africa’s growth was strongly correlated with its consumption and exploitation of natural resources.

However, she said, harnessing natural resource wealth for structural, social and economic transformation required quality and empirical research, innovation, policy support and infrastructure fit for the future to help the region move away from being a marginal supplier of raw commodities to harnessing the full potential of its natural capital through diversification and greater value-addition.

She noted that since the establishment of UNU-INRA in 1986, UNU-INRA had made significant contributions to natural resource governance. Dr Denton pledged the continuous support of UNU-INRA for African governments in choosing their own development trajectories and move towards resilient economies.

She outlined her vision for enhancing Africa’s natural resources as starting locally to enable research institutions to cater for the continent’s knowledge needs and align them with its development goals.

She said there was the need to use research institutions as producers of knowledge as well as influencers of research outcomes.

Prof. Emmanuel Owusu-Bennoah, former Director-General of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and Chairman for the occasion, noted that natural resource governance was at the heart of environmental sustainability and congratulated Dr Ayuk for the significant contributions made in this sphere of development.

Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney, Esq.)

Created: 01 October 2018
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