The United Nations University Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA) has called for the adoption of a new robust mineral resources governance framework, the Sustainable Development Licence to Operate (SDLO), to address mining sector challenges and promote sustainable development. This was the key message of a presentation on the topic “Mineral Resources Governance for Sustainable Development: A New Framework” delivered by Dr Elias T. Ayuk, outgoing Director of UNU-INRA, at a farewell lecture on 27 September.
Dr Ayuk cautioned that mineral resources governance continues to present many challenges, especially for developing countries, with empirical evidence pointing to “resource curse” as a manifestation of poor governance. The current governance landscape, he said, is marked by fragmentation and initiatives fatigue resulting from a complex array of governance frameworks and initiatives.
He highlighted the SDLO as “a new, multilevel holistic and integrated governance framework applicable to governments, companies, and the broader range of stakeholders in the extractive industry”. The SDLO builds, he said, on the “social license to operate” but covers a broader subject matter — including the nexus of environmental, social, and economic concerns — and a wider range of actors across the public, private, and third sectors. The SDLO advocates for a new governance regime with an explicit foundation based on the notion of participation, common concern, joint responsibility, responsible business practice, stewardship, and duty of care.
In her remarks, Dr Fatima Denton emphasised the important role of research data in addressing Africa’s natural resource issues and broader development challenges. “We have to start locally and enable our research institutions to cater for our knowledge needs and align these with our development goals”, she said. “We have to use our research institutes as producers of knowledge, not only as contributors to research but as influencers of research outcomes.”
Dr Denton underscored the need for strong partnerships: “Our task is huge, and we cannot afford to be insular. We have to elevate science to economic literacy and anchor our work to respond to problems that our governments, farmers, pastoralists, and vulnerable communities are wrestling with.”
The lecture was attended by key stakeholders including heads of UN agencies in Ghana, representatives from the University of Ghana, members of the diplomatic corps and the media.
For more, see the news story on the UNU-INRA website.