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Programme Vision: Inclusive, pro poor and responsible natural resource economies for economic, social, and environmental sustainability in Africa.

Programme Mission: To provide policy choices that support ‘win-win-win’ outcomes or the Triple bottom line (People, Planet and Profits) in the sustainable conservation, use and governance of Africa’s natural capital and natural resources

Programme Goal: To support the development of enabling policies, organizations and institutions for harnessing ‘win-win-win’ outcomes or the Triple Bottom Line in the sustainable conservation, use and governance of Africa’s natural capital and natural resources, with specific reference to the agriculture, energy, biodiversity and extractive industry sectors.

The priority of this programme area is to bridge the gap in the ‘governance deficit’ in the management of Africa’s natural resources. Good natural resources governance is necessary for the successful economic transformation of countries with abundant oil, gas, and mineral resources. However, there is a major governance deficit in natural resources management around the world. This deficit is largest in the most resource dependent countries, where nearly half a billion people live in poverty despite natural resource wealth due to lack of effective ways and means of holding central and local governments, private and state-owned companies accountable. There are two main concerns for ACTS in responsible natural resource economies.

First, is governing biodiversity use and conservation in Africa. About one-fifth of all known species of plants, mammals, and birds and one-sixth of amphibians and reptiles are found in Africa. We are however losing these as a result of both climate change and social and economic activities particularly through deforestation, desertification, coral reef degradation, declining fish stocks, endangered species, and loss of pollinators. In 2008 alone, the global economic cost of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation was estimated at between US$2 and US$4.5 trillion; that is, 3.3 – 7.5 per cent of global GDP. The long run cumulative effects of such losses are simply not sustainable, for Africa which is facing the twin challenge of development and climate change. There is therefore need to eliminate perverse incentives that drive biodiversity loss while establishing positive incentives that enhance sustainable biodiversity conservation and use.

Second, is governing the extractive industries in Africa. Extractive industries have emerged as a powerful engine of economic growth in many African countries over the last decade. Several resource rich African countries have contributed to the continent’s strong economic growth over the last decade (e.g. Angola, Botswana, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, and Zambia). Nevertheless, many of these either remain at the bottom of the international league table for human development (e.g. Sierra Leone, Niger, Mozambique, Equatorial Guinea) or have registered some of the world’s largest inequalities in wealth and/or deterioration in poverty reduction efforts (e.g. Equatorial Guinea). Even those resource rich countries that have reduced poverty (e.g Botswana) have seldom matched the level of economic growth registered.

ACTS role in this programme, therefore, will be to offer advice on options for mandatory and other voluntary national and local level governance mechanisms that require nurturing through concerted state, private sector, community, and civil society. Through this programme, ACTS shall seek to enhance the transparency, accountability and effective public participation and scrutiny of the natural resources and extractive industries sector through specific objectives:

  1. Maximize ‘win-win-win’ (economic, livelihood and biodiversity) opportunities in the governance and management of Africa’s natural capital and natural resources;
  2. Minimize the environmental and social footprints of the extractive industries sector in Africa;
  3. Strengthen capacity and expertise of regulatory agencies, communities and civil society to provide environmental and social monitoring of large scale extractive sector projects;
  4. Facilitate regular and constructive multi-stakeholder dialogue (companies, state, communities, and civil society), information sharing, and decision making on natural resource management in Africa;
  5. Enhance the capacity and expertise of companies, government, and civil society to implement, measure, verify, and report on ‘no net loss’, ‘net positive’ and/or other innovative biodiversity conservation protocols and practices within the extractive industries sector in Africa and;
  6. Facilitate development and use of methodologies for natural capital accounting, environmental accounting, economic valuation, sustainability reporting, and integrated sustainability reporting.