Luck has struck the region of East Africa: for a couple of years now, new announcements of natural resource discoveries are being made every few months. Mozambique has found some of the largest natural gas deposits in the world, while Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya have also discovered gas and oil. Exploration is still ongoing, so even more discoveries could be forthcoming. Luck has definitely struck the region, but the main question is: how will the people in these countries benefit from this?
In my lifetime, I have seen waters that were teeming with multi-colored fish, turn dead like an empty aquarium. I have seen the streets of Bogota, my home town, lose thousands of trees in a matter of years.
It’s tempting to feel demoralized. But as the world’s protected area specialists, conservationists and decision makers gather in Sydney, Australia, this week for the World Parks Congress, there is also much to hope for.
- water access
- natural resources
- food security
- Sustainable Development
- protected areas
- natural capital
- World Parks Congress
- Agriculture and Rural Development
- Climate Change
- Latin America & Caribbean
- East Asia and Pacific
- South Africa
Every MPA is not created the same; some allow fishing and some do not, some are small and some are large, some are connected and some stand alone. When they are well planned and well executed, MPAs can help feed communities, protect jobs and boost biodiversity in the ocean. Here are the top five reasons why MPAs can be GREAT!
1. Spill Over Effects
The benefits of an MPA extend far beyond the boundaries of protection. When well planned, MPAs act as the home base for migratory species. These species use the protected area to reproduce, feed or congregate. But they do not stick around for long. This is called the “spill over effect” and it is hugely beneficial to local fishing communities. Even if fishing is restricted inside the MPA, just outside the border the fish are more numerous and far larger. For example, in Indonesia, community income increased 21 percent in 258 villages near a network of six protected areas.
By 2050, the world's population will have risen to 9 billion people. Consumption of fish as a percentage of protein in diets around the world is growing too, especially in the last five years as noted in a recent United Nations Report. Fish makes up over 16 percent of the world's animal protein food supply, and food fish supply, including aquaculture, has increased at an average annual rate of 3.2 percent, which means it’s growing at an even faster clip than the world's population. But the supply of wild-caught commercial fish species, such as tuna, is not infinite. Realistic, well-defined and long-term focused management strategies need to be in place now so that despite an unwavering growth in population and consumption, wild fish stocks can thrive well into the future.
Consumption of fish will continue to increase. In both the developing and developed world, more consumers want access to more fish. In less developed, food-deficit countries -- specifically coastal ones -- fish like tuna provide an affordable source of nutrient rich food.
Source: Getty Images/Sam Edwards.
In Africa, estimates indicate that an annual investment of $93 billion is required to address the continent’s basic infrastructure needs – more than double the current level of investment.
The lack of productive investment of resource revenues, with spending of these revenues often heavily tilted towards consumption, is a critical component of the so-called resource curse, the observation that countries rich in natural resources frequently have slow long-term growth. Following oil or mineral discoveries, as the expectation of increased wealth spreads, pressures to spend typically become hard for politicians to resist, public sector salaries go through the roof, wasteful spending increases, corruption may flourish, hidden foreign bank accounts may be established, and the number of unproductive “white elephant” projects grows.
How can resource-rich countries ensure that a large share of oil, gas, and mining revenues are used for productive investment rather than excessive or wasteful consumption?
An abundance of natural resources is both an opportunity and a challenge for developing countries. A number of resource-rich, low-income countries receive amounts of foreign aid that are similar to or larger than their actual or potential revenues from natural resources. A new policy research working paper by Octave Keutiben and me develops a growth model to look at some ways in which the donors may help governments of such countries to use their resource revenues productively and minimize the magnitude of risks created by resource rents. The paper’s key conclusion is that making aid countercyclical helps to achieve higher economic growth, and so does conditioning disbursements on enhancement of public capital.
Travelling across Africa these days you are likely to run into increasing numbers of mining, oil, and gas industry personnel engaged in exploration, drilling, and extraction across the continent. Although commodity prices are moderating, the discoveries being made in Africa offer the real prospect of significant revenue to many cash-poor, aid-dependent governments in the decade ahead. If you care about development, the question is whether these revenues will catalyze broad economic development and whether they will benefit the poor in Africa.