Tony Venables, of Oxford University, Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies (OxCarre) discusses the new initiative called the “Natural Resources Charter”. This effort (online at http://www.naturalresourcecharter.org/) seeks:

…to provide guidelines and standards to inform and improve natural resource management. It aims to ensure that the opportunities provided by new discoveries and commodity booms will never again be missed.

He describes the effort in the video:

Tony Venables, Oxford, on the “Natural Resources Charter” at GDNET09

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International Initiative for Impact Evaluation - 3IEThe new International Institute of Impact Evaluation, or “3ei”, was formally launched today at the GDN 2009 Annual Conference here in Kuwait. In his remarks announcing the new venture, Executive Director Howard White said that billions of dollars each year are spent on development aid with scant evidence of what really works:

“We simply do not know what are the most effective ways to allocate development resources. This is not just an intellectual failure, it is a human tragedy.”

3ie will focus on filling this gap – by conducting synthetic reviews of existing evidence, and commissioning new research into development impacts.

3ie was born of work done by the Evaluation Gap Working Group, started by the Center for Global Development (CGD), and the Group’s report “When will we ever learn?

Lawrence MacDonald of the Center for Global Development did an interview with Howard White discussing the launch of 3ie – see Lawrence’s blog post here and the video below:

More information about 3ie is on its new web site at http://www.3ieimpact.org.

Also, there is a detailed Q&A with Howard White on the CGD web site.

Kishore Gawande, of the Bush School for Government and Public Service at Texas A&M, speaks about the Global Development Network 2009. He was the discussant for one of the plenary sessions on “The Political Economy of Natural Resources” featuring Paul Collier, Ravi Kanbur, Terry Lynn Karl, and Tarik Yousef. They presented three very different perspectives which Kishore discusses.

View the video:

I sat in on an interesting session the morning of Feb 3rd featuring case study presentations on how three countries have performed in natural resource boom/bust situations.

* Karlygash Kuralbayeva presented lessons from Kazakhstan
* Anthony Musonda, on Zambia
* Albert Zeufack, on Cameroon

The discussant, Rick van der Ploeg, of Oxford, did a nice job summing up the lessons (and also summarized the highlights in the video below):

Kazakhstan:
the government saved 2/3 of oil revenue into its Oil Fund for future generations – seemingly prudent, but the associated boom in private sector spending, a “Richardian Curse”, undid much of the good the government did.

Zambia: an extraordinarily small share of “rents” from copper production were captured by the government; the royalty rate was only 0.6% and then increased to a still small 3.0%, showing a case of the “curse” of a government not claiming revenue for its own citizens.

Cameroon:  has suffered from a complete lack of transparency, i.e. deep corruption. Of some $20b in revenue coming in, only $8b was reported by the government. A curse of (no) transparency.

John Alphonse Okidi, of IDRC, discusses his work on the Think Tank Initiative in Eastern Africa, and the GDN 2009 in Kuwait.

View the interview:

Damien King, University of the West Indies, and the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI http://www.takingresponsibility.org/) , speaks about the GDN 2009, and natural resources issues in the Caribbean.

Some selected notes from the recent session titled “Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association (LACEA) Session: Natural Resource Booms, Macroeconomic Management and Civil Conflict in Latin America“:

Columbia (Juan Fernando Vargas): Natural resources booms have been tied to the dynamics of civil conflict. Guerrilla attacks, paramilitary attaches, clashes and casualties – all are higher in coffee-growing municipalities than in non-coffee growing municipalities. A discussant questioned the analysis and this conclusion, and an audience commentator suggested that both conclusions may be justified(!).

Chile (Eric Parrado): Chile has had successful management of copper booms, via its “fiscal rules” policy. So, it stands to weather the current storms of the financial crisis better than any other LAC country.

Venezuela (Osmel Manzano): Venezuela has been the opposite of Chile with respect to handling oil booms.

A discussant asked “Chile vs Venezuela? What’s the difference?” He said they have much in common… but some key differences:

-Polity very different: Chile has a well established two party system, while Venezuela’s party system has deteriorated to what now borders on autocracy, without effective checks and balances.

-Chile has strong constituency for stability, and thus support for macro-economic policies to support long-term stability.

-Chile was quite a mess in 60s and 70s; but was able to come out of that crisis and institute significant reforms 30 years ago that are now working very effectively; some other LAC countries may be on similar long-term paths towards reform.

It is good to see that the GDN Conference is getting attention beyond the conference rooms.  Here are a few articles and posts about the  event:

Anupam Khanna is a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Global Development Network, and is leading its initial efforts to address research into climate change. In this interview he shares his thoughts on GDN’s approach for research on climate change and reflections on a two-day workshop held this week on climate change.

Marios Obwona, Director of Training at the African Economic Research Consortium, Kenya, shares his reflections on the Global Development Network Conference in Kuwait, February 2009.