This dossier on ‘Power dynamics and natural resources’ contains five case-study articles and a synthesis summary on the power dynamics underlying both ‘open’ and ‘hidden’ conflicts over natural resources. The dossier also comprises a debate with the aim to identify clear policy recommendations for policymakers and practitioners in the field.
The starting point for the ‘Power dynamics and natural resources’ dossier is that resource-related disputes do not occur in isolation, but are interconnected with the global trade system and often coincide other structural socioeconomic, cultural and ethnic inequalities. These disputes arise because actors’ interests in natural resources are incompatible. Specific interests, mainly short-term national economic interests and export-led development, are often given primacy at the expense of long-term structural economic development, local wellbeing, protecting human rights, and environmental concerns. Moreover, when they arise, resource-related disputes are often portrayed in non-political terms that mask underlying power imbalances and specific national and global economic choices.
This dossier aims to unravel the power dynamics that underlie resource-related disputes and determine which interests prevail and what discourse is adopted. It has been produced in cooperation with the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research – WOTRO Science for Development (NWO-WOTRO) programme Conflict and Cooperation over Natural Resources in Developing Countries (CoCooN). The CoCooN research teams have provided five articles focusing on specific case studies of resource-related disputes and their underlying power dynamics.
In ‘The tragedy of the deprived’, The Broker summarizes the main findings of the five case studies and reflects on the overall tendencies.
The five case-study articles are:
- ‘Formalizing the unknown. The stalemate over formalizing small-scale mining in Madre de Dios’, by Gerardo Damonte, which describes the Peruvian conflict between the authorities and small-scale and artisanal miners.
- ‘The Seed-Fuel Wars of Africa. Biofuel Conflicts in Ghana and Ethiopia’, by Richmond Antwi-Bediako and Benjamin Betey Campion, which describes the land conflicts in Ghana and Ethiopia in the context of biofuel stock cultivation.
- ‘The demise of the Yasuní-ITT initiative: Back to reality or the end of the beginning?’, by Murat Arsel and Lorenzo Pellegrini, which describes the conflicts related to Ecuadorian Yasuni-ITT initiative.
- ‘Between the devil and the not-so-deep blue sea: Asymmetrical power in the Indo-Sri Lankan fisheries conflict’, by Joeri Scholtens, Johny Stephen and Ajit Menon, which describes the fisheries conflict between Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen.
- ‘The soy game in the Brazilian Amazon. Conflicting interests in the Brazilian soy industry’, by Tim Boekhout van Solinge and Karlijn Kuijpers, which describes the soy-related conflicts in the Brazilian Amazon.
Together with the case studies, we have launched a debate on the topic, which you can find in the centre column of the dossier page. We call on our readers to further examine the main question addressed by the dossier: What are the power dynamics underlying disputes over natural resources and how can the escalation of potential conflicts be prevented? The debate, however, specifically aims to go beyond analyzing the complexities surrounding resource-related conflict resolution. By involving stakeholders in conflict-prone countries we aim to identify ‘windows of opportunity’ for change in the context of the global political economy. What can be done (globally, nationally and locally) to eradicate the root causes of natural resource conflicts? Contributions can focus on particular cases or specific conflict-prone regions, or be more general in approach.
You can send your contribution to our debate to: firstname.lastname@example.org
We hope you enjoy reading our ‘Power Dynamics and Natural Resources’ dossier.
Photo credit main picture: 'Tabulation' / newmy51