Research page

Escaping the Resource Trap: Evidence from Resource-rich Emerging Economies

Principal Collaborators: Gilles Carbonnier, Fritz Brugger; Natasha Wagner; Achim Wennmann


This research project used to run under the name "Global and Local Governance: the Case of Oil and Gas". It was principally focused on newly emerging forms of governance aiming to avert the so-called “resource curse” by examining the evolving roles and responsibilities of two key stakeholders in the governance of hydrocarbons: Civil society organizations and economic actors (extractive industries and the financial sector). It looked at the interactions between them and the State, both at the global level and in selected oil producing countries. The objective was to distil new insights and lessons to contribute to improving the impact of multi-stakeholder initiatives on oil and gas producing countries in the developing world in terms of governance and sustainable, inclusive development. 

The research project was afterwards altered to focus on the complex nexus between sustainable development processes and the extraction of oil, gas and minerals. Specifically, it sought to distil lessons from an investigation of how, and under what conditions, formerly low‐income resource‐rich countries have managed to establish systems of governance that enabled them to use the proceeds of their natural wealth in a way that avoided the resource curse. Case studies included resource‐rich emerging economies in Latin America (Colombia, Chile and Peru), Sub‐Saharan Africa (South Africa and Botswana), and possibly South‐East Asia (Indonesia and Malaysia).


Project Outcomes

As part of the project, the CCDP organized, on February 4-5 2010, an international expert workshop gathering experts from a variety of fields, including academics from diverse disciplines and selected individuals from industry and the public sector. The workshop's theme revolved on “Global and Local Governance in the Energy Sector: The Case of Oil and Mining”, and featured presentations from the participants divided along the lines of five main sub-themes:

  • Resource extraction and development

  • Resource rent and revenue management

  • The role of extractive industries

  • Resource extraction, peacebuilding and development

  • Emerging issues – China and climate change.

A synthesizing report was published, and is available here.

Following this expert meeting, Gilles Carbonnier was invited to be guest editor by the journal Global Governance; the contributions have been published in June 2011 (vol 17:2). The conceptual side of the project was also pursued through the preparation of an edited volume based on contributions from the project’s network of partners and collaborators.

In September 2011, a Working Paper on "Oil, Gas and Minerals: The Impact of Resource-Dependence and Governance on Sustainable Development"was published. This Working Paper takes adjusted net savings (ANS) as an indicator of weak sustainability in order to examine the link between resource dependence and sustainable development.

The results highlight a negative relationship between natural resource extraction and ANS but indicate that this is not inevitable. Effective checks on the power of the executive appears to be critical for sustainable outcomes. Moreover, effective legislative chambers, an independent judiciary and broad acceptance of established institutions all have a positive impact on ANS per capita. The results further confirm that armed conflict and armed violence as measured by homicide rate have a negative impact on ANS.

The results of this CCDP project suggest that there is a need for the extractive industries and donor agencies to expand their focus from community-development programmes to strengthening checks-and-balance mechanisms.

The project was concluded in 2013.