Our latest ‘Critical Conversation’ podcast features an exclusive discussion with President and CEO of the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), Suneeta Kaimal, on the opportunity and need for improved governance to manage a just and equitable transition to a decarbonised world.
Suneeta Kaimal was appointed President and CEO of NRGI in February 2021. Previously, she served as NRGI’s Chief Operating Officer and became interim president in 2020, she is also on the board of the International Centre for Not-For-Profit Law, and previously chaired the Open Government Partnership and Publish What You Pay.
This 30-minute conversation was recorded on 22 October 2021, and was moderated by Daniel Litvin, Founder and Managing Partner of Critical Resource.
Among the key points raised by Suneeta:
- The pandemic has been a litmus test for resource governance. Resource rich developing nations have been pushed back into poverty – by 2030 half of the world’s poor will be in resource rich countries.
- Increased tensions between China, the US and the EU are pulling resource rich developing nations in radically different directions, making it harder for them to understand the rules of the game. We need to stand up for the laws and policies we’ve worked together to create and address governance challenges to ensure a greener, more prosperous planet.
- Tax systems have failed to deliver – Sub-Saharan Africa loses $600m annually in lost taxes. For many years, companies have exploited asymmetries of capacity, power and knowledge, with government revenues eroded by lopsided agreements and unnecessary incentives. We need to thread the needle to design taxes that mobilise revenue and attract investment, while being flexible, simple and resilient to changing circumstances.
- Wealthier countries should wind down fossil fuel production first and fastest the hypocrisy of major economies is shocking. G20 countries have poured billions into fossil fuels since the start of the pandemic, and yet are asking low-income producers with small carbon footprints to transition faster than wealthier, high emitting producers. It’s economically and morally unjustifiable.
- We need to ensure that the energy transition doesn’t exacerbate or introduce new inequities. We have to stop repeating the errors of the past and see the energy transition as an opportunity to do things differently.
- The expected boom from mining ‘energy transition metals’ could help countries rich in these resources fund much-needed social spending. It could also engender reforms to the mining sector, making it a greener, more rights respecting industry that contributes to sustainable economic and social systems. However, corruption and mismanagement risks disrupting the supply of critical minerals and leave citizens worse off.
- It is naïve to assume that renewables won’t be prone to similar governance challenges that we’ve already seen in the extractive sector. Applying the lessons we have learnt from oil, gas and mining would enable us to create a greener future grounded in good governance.
To find out more on the role of National Oil Companies in the energy transition, find NRGI’s recent article on the subject here.