Maximizing Partnerships between Indigenous Communities and the Extractive Sector

By Daniel F. Runde

Between now and 2050, global population growth and rapid urbanization are expected result in an additional 1.6 billion people in need of electricity. Traditional energy sources based on extractive industries – coal, oil, and gas – will continue to drive the market and satisfy the energy demands of burgeoning populations in the short to medium term. The emerging markets of China and India, for example, account for approximately one-third of the world’s population and will need to exponentially increase imports of cheap energy sources in order to produce electricity for their growing middle classes. Where will these resources be extracted and imported from? Largely from the lands inhabited by indigenous peoples, who live on top of the some of the most biodiverse and resource-rich regions on earth.

Indigenous peoples have suffered marginalization, intimidation, and even displacement at the hands of their national governments and multinational companies in the past. However, this has largely changed for the better as many companies have recognized that the ultimate success of extractive investments depends on local partnerships with indigenous communities. Forward-thinking companies that implement guidelines to include the input and build the capacity of indigenous populations have the opportunity to achieve successful, profitable outcomes that simultaneously meet end-user energy demands and benefit the local populations from where that energy is sourced.

Panelists at a recent event hosted here at CSIS discussing partnerships between extractive companies and indigenous communities.

Panelists at a recent event hosted here at CSIS discussing partnerships between extractive companies and indigenous communities.

There is undoubtedly a salient financial case for uniting the extractive industry’s objectives for powering the world with corporate practices that promote cultural awareness and local capacity building among indigenous community partners. A participant at a recent CSIS meeting noted that companies that mitigate social risk by partnering with indigenous populations have a 5-6% higher return on investment. Partnerships with these indigenous populations can drive profit, and social and economic development for underserved communities.  Failing to partner with indigenous communities, on the other hand, increases the risk that local opposition will impede a project’s success and hurt the company’s bottom line. Continue reading

Weekly Roundup

This week in development…

U.S. Development Policy/International Organizations

  • As the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) approaches, access to sanitation and safe drinking water remains the ‘least improved’ A recent UN report found that 2.5 billion people lack access to basic sanitation facilities, while 1.8 billion people use contaminated water sources.
A water kiosk in Chipata, Zambia providing clean and sanitary water.

A water kiosk in Chipata, Zambia providing clean and sanitary water.

  • United Nation’s Population Fund (UNPF) recently released a major report on the State of the World Population. The report focuses on the economic potential of the 1.8 billion ‘youth bulge’, referring to the large global youth population many of whom are unemployed. The report estimates Africa’s growth to boost by a third if the continent invests enough in the younger generation. PPD earlier this year launched the Global Youth Wellbeing Index highlighting policies needed to capitalize on these demographic changes.

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