WASHINGTON, May 28, 2013 - World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the World Bank today signed a memorandum of understanding to intensify collaboration in Africa’s extractive industries sector, and jointly support more sustainable extractive industry practices that provide benefits to local communities and protect the environment.
The MOU commits the two institutions to share knowledge and expertise relating to the extractives sector in Africa, utilize and leverage existing resources, collaborate on research and dissemination of good practices, provide policy guidance, boost collaboration with other entities, and jointly host seminars, workshops and training events to strengthen African capacities for sustainable management of natural resources.
“To end poverty and boost shared prosperity, Africa needs a new generation of extractive industry projects that are marked by transparency, environmental and social accountability, and a sharp focus on development results,” said Jamal Saghir, World Bank Director for Sustainable Development in the Africa Region, at the signing ceremony at WWF-US headquarters in Washington, DC. “We look forward to strengthening our partnership with World Wildlife Fund-US so that poor people across Africa can benefit from the abundance of natural resources.”
The MOU comes at a time when Africa is achieving solid growth rates of five percent and up. In an analysis of issues shaping Africa’s economic future, the World Bank’s Africa Pulse, April 2013 issue noted that considerable amounts of new mineral revenues were coming on stream across the region. Of the 49 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Africa Pulse noted that by 2020 only four or five countries on the continent will not be involved in mineral exploitation of some kind, such is Africa’s abundance of natural resources.
“There is great opportunity for local communities to benefit from extractive projects in Africa, but there is also risk that these communities, along with critical habitats and endangered species are exploited in the process,” said David Reed, Senior Vice President for Policy at WWF-US. “We hope that by working with the World Bank, we can ensure that extractive projects, both large and small, are implemented with free, prior and informed consent combined with respect for globally recognized environmental and social standards.”
“The new Memorandum of Understanding marks an important step forward in our ongoing collaboration with WWF,” said Magda Lovei, World Bank Sector Manager for Environment, Natural Resources, Water, and Disaster Risk Management in the Africa Region. “We look forward to working more closely with WWF to support sustainable practices in extractive industries.”
Because the majority of people engaged in mining in Africa operate at an artisanal level (artisanal small scale miners or ASMs), a particular aspect of the collaboration is to focus attention where environmental and social problems are prevalent, and where vulnerability, poverty, conflict and development needs are at their greatest.
After the signing ceremony, participants viewed a documentary, “Heart of Iron: Mining in the Congo Basin Rainforest” jointly produced by WWF and the World Bank which explores the complexity of mining in a vast, remote forest landscape called Tridom (Tri-national Dja-Odzala-Minkébé) that is home to one of the largest untapped iron reserves on earth.