NRGI President Kaufmann Concludes SPP Advanced Course

May 18, 2017

The two-week advanced course that SPP’s Global Policy Academy organized with the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) concluded on May 18 with an enthusiastically-received presentation by Daniel Kaufmann, president and CEO of NRGI.  In his remarks, Kaufmann touched on some of the topics that had been addressed during the course and spoke about the “enormous challenges and also exciting opportunities” for those who are interested in promoting transparency and good governance “to do things that matter.”  Addressing himself to the 70 participants from 21 countries enrolled in the “Reversing the Resource Curse: Theory and Practice” course, Kaufmann said, “it’s up to us now.”

Kaufmann also shared some interesting information to show how NRGI compiles the data that it uses to push for accountable and effective governance. Although governance is a challenge for many countries, Kaufmann said, that the challenge was “much greater” for resource-rich countries.

Kaufmann emphasized the importance of evidence-based policy analysis and advocacy. He cautioned that “all data has margins of error” but said that it was possible to account for this margin of error and that in many cases, “it is not fatally large.” Kaufmann pointed out that data “debunks some popular myths,” showing, for example, that countries in the south are not more corrupt than those in the north, and that there is enormous variation within continents.

The data also shows that while non-resource rich countries have made some progress, the situation in resource-rich countries has gotten worse. “There is nothing deterministic about this,” emphasized Kaufmann. He noted that Colombia and Venezuela, two countries that share many characteristics, have had very different experiences during the last 15 years because of the policy choices they had made.

Kaufmann stressed the importance of governance noting that, on average, a country that implements reforms and improves governance in a significant and realistic way can achieve a three-fold increase in GDP per capita. He noted that good governance is associated with other positive outcomes as well such as improvements in infant mortality and a reduced cost of borrowing in capital markets. Investors also consult governance indicators: “they invest where there is good governance,” said Kaufmann.

One of the topics that Kaufmann addressed was the impact that climate change goals will have especially on resource-rich developing countries. He noted that just 90 companies account for two-thirds of man-made global warming emissions – and that 83 of these 90 companies are active in the extractive industry.