In this podcast, Professor Paul Collier discusses ideas from his latest book, “The Plundered Planet: How to Reconcile Prosperity with Nature” (Allen Lane, 2010). Prof Collier, a member of our LicenseSecure senior advisory panel, is professor of economics and director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University. He is one of the world’s leading experts on African and resource-rich economies, and was formerly Director of the Development Research Group at the World Bank. He is author of the bestselling book “The Bottom Billion: Why the poorest countries are failing and what can be done about it” (Oxford University Press, 2007) and of “Wars, Guns, and Votes: Democracy in dangerous places” (The Bodley Head, 2009).
In the first part (click here) of the interview, he outlines the challenges facing resource-rich developing countries. Over the next ten years, resource extraction will be “far bigger than ever before” in these countries. This presents enormous opportunities for development (indeed, resource extraction can in principle be seen as “God’s work”); but in reality “plunder is the default option” and the benefits are rarely realised.
In part 2 (click here) he turns to the impact of private companies, suggesting that Western firms could usefully emulate aspects of the ‘infrastructure-for-resources’ approach taken by the Chinese. Embedding corporate responsibility within core functions – rather than treating it as a PR exercise – can also help, and companies can responsibly help influence how governments spend resource revenues.
In part 3 (click here), Prof Collier provides an update on the Natural Resource Charter, an initiative that seeks to support resource-rich governments across the whole resource-extraction decision chain, from awarding contracts to spending revenues. A number of the world’s biggest extractive companies have been excited by the initiative and its ability to “reach the parts they can’t reach” in supporting government decision-making, says Prof Collier.