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Extractive industries are critical drivers of many economies, but often place a great burden on environmental systems, or affect societies in areas of extraction. This group looks at how to better use resource endowments, including land, for sustainable development. Much of the work of this group touches upon accountability and building strong institutions, as per the objectives of SDG 16.

Harnessing natural resource wealth is the great transformative opportunity for many developing nations. Resource extraction generates the largest source of exports, inward investment and potential for government revenues for over sixty low-income countries. However, mismanagement can carry a high cost, with the potential to fuel corruption; economic, environmental, and social damage; and even conflict.

As stewards of their extractive and land resources, governments have the responsibility to manage and regulate the extraction process, and to transform natural assets into sustained prosperity for both current and future generations. This includes the good governance of land and security of tenure especially for the rural poor. In addition, companies must take steps that go beyond minimum legal requirements by ensuring that they do not infringe on the rights of individuals and should strive to comply with high environmental, social, and human rights standards. In part, this means avoiding corruption, contributing to sustainable development outcomes, and making pertinent project information public and accessible.

Some of the questions that the Thematic Network seeks to answer include:

  • What rules should govern the extraction of minerals and fossil fuels in order to ensure social fairness, economic efficiency, and environmental sustainability?
  • How can these rules be promoted and enforced by industry standards, national regulation, market-based incentives, and global rules?
  • How can vulnerable poor countries and global companies strike win-win agreements on the sustainable use of natural resources?

The Thematic Network is hosted by the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment.

Network Co-Chairs: 

Joseph Bell, Hogan Lovells, USA
Antonio Pedro, UN Economic Commission for Africa, Sub-Regional Office for Eastern Africa, Rwanda
Lisa Sachs, Columbia Institute for Sustainable Investment, USA

Participating Organizations:

  • Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP)
  • African Legal Support Facility (ALSF)
  • AidData
  • Anglo American
  • Austrian Foundation for Development Research (ÖFSE)
  • Business for Social Responsibility (BSR)
  • Canadian International Resources and Development Institute (CIRDI)
  • Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR)
  • Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)
  • Centre for Energy, Petroleum & Mineral Law & Policy (CEPMLP), University of Dundee
  • Le Centre pour le Développement et l’Environnement (CED)
  • Chatham House
  • The Cloudburst Group
  • Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI)
  • Devonshire Initiative
  • Drexhage Consulting
  • Engineers Without Borders (EWB), Canada
  • Environmental Law Institute (ELI)
  • Extractives Baraza, Strathmore University
  • Flagship Pioneering
  • The Ford Foundation
  • Forest Peoples Programme (FPP)
  • Foundation for Ecological Security (FES)
  • GIZ
  • Global Affairs Canada, Government of Canada
  • Hogan Lovells
  • Huairou Commission
  • Hudbay Minerals Inc.
  • International Finance Corporation (IFC)
  • Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)
  • Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF)
  • International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM)
  • International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
  • International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
  • International Land Coalition (ILC)
  • Kenya Land Alliance
  • Land Portal Foundation
  • Landesa
  • Lydian International
  • Mineral Law in Africa, University of Cape Town
  • Minerals to Metals Initiative, University of Cape Town
  • Mokoro
  • Namati
  • Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI)
  • Natural Resources Institute (NRI)
  • Omidyar Network
  • The ONE Campaign
  • Open Society Foundations (OSF)
  • OpenOil
  • Overseas Development Institute (ODI)
  • Oxfam
  • Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC)
  • Publish What You Pay (PWYP), United States
  • Responsible Mining Index
  • Secretariat of the Committee on World Food Security
  • South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA)
  • Synergos Consulting Services
  • The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI)
  • Transparency & Accountability Initiative
  • Transparency International, Australia
  • UN Development Programme (UNDP)
  • UN Environment (UNEP)
  • UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
  • UN Global Compact
  • UN Habitat
  • UN Habitat, Global Land Tool Network (GLTN)
  • United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Sub-regional Office for Central Africa in Cameroon
  • Universidad Externado de Colombia
  • University of British Columbia
  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • Vale
  • World Bank Group
  • World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)
  • World Economic Forum (WEF)
  • World Resources Institute (WRI)
  • Yamana Gold

Note: Several experts are participating in the Thematic Network in their personal capacities; their organizations are not listed above.

Other Thematic Networks

The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) has established 12 Thematic Networks comprising leading scientists, engineers, academics and practitioners from business and civil society to promote solutions to key challenges of sustainable development. The Thematic Networks are solution oriented rather than research oriented and aim to identify practical solutions to the challenges of sustainable development.

  • 1: The World in 2050

    This network seeks to chart an integrated pathway for sustainable development through to 2050 that includes achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as interim milestones by 2030. Drawing on the best available modeling frameworks for the full range of SDGs, the network will also develop a business-as-usual pathway to identify the cost of inaction.

  • 2: Humanitarian-Development Linkages

    This thematic network looks at how to accelerate progress in the most fragile regions and how to ensure coherence between the development and humanitarian agendas. The work of this network relates in particular to SDG 16 and cuts across all goals areas.

  • 3: Gender, Human Rights, and Social Inclusion

    This network focuses on human rights and works towards a world where the equal dignity and worth of every individual is respected and valued. It focuses in particular on the realization of SDGs 5, 10, and 16, and its work cuts across all goals areas.

  • 4: Education, Quality and Learning for All (EQUAL)

    This network takes a comprehensive, lifelong and multigenerational approach to learning to maximize the world’s potential for sustainable development. The network aims to support the fulfillment of SDG 4 in particular.

  • 5: Health for All

    As articulated in SDG 3, health is crucial for sustainable development, as it sits at the nexus of the social, environmental, economic, and governance issues. While the MDGs brought new vigor to specific global health challenges, this network seeks to expand the global agenda, with a focus on Universal Health Coverage.

  • 6: Deep Decarbonization Pathways

    The network comprises the members of the Deep Decarbonization Pathway Project (DDPP), an initiative that prepares national, long-term low-emission development pathways that are consistent with the 2°C target, working with 16 country research teams. The work of the DDPP supports the achievement of SDG 13 on climate action.

  • 7: Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems

    This network explores how to provide healthy diets to a growing world population while reducing the environmental impact of agriculture. It also looks at how the three pillars of sustainable development can be realized in rural areas. The network’s activities explicitly aim to support the fulfillment of SDG 2.

  • 8: Forests, Oceans, Biodiversity, and Ecosystem Services

    This network seeks integrative solutions for securing biodiversity and improving the management of ecosystem services, from fisheries and timber to forest carbon sinks. Moving forward the work will be separated into a network focusing on oceans and one addressing forests in particular. Together they will support the achievement of SDGs 14 and 15.

  • 9: Sustainable Cities: Inclusive, Resilient, and Connected

    Today, 50% of the world’s 7 billion people live in cities, and, by 2050, this will rise to 70%. This thematic network seeks to identify practical solutions for improving urban management and achieving sustainable cities and human settlements (SDG 11). The work will build on the Campaign for an Urban Sustainable Development Goal, which now aims to support SDG 11 and the achievement of all the SDGs at subnational levels.

  • 10: Good Governance of Extractive and Land Resources

    Extractive industries are critical drivers of many economies, but often place a great burden on environmental systems, or affect societies in areas of extraction. This network looks at how to better use resource endowments, including land, for sustainable development. Much of the work of this group touches upon good resource management, linked to SDG 12, as well as accountability and building strong institutions, as per the objectives of SDG 16.

  • 12: Data and Statistics for Sustainable Development

    This thematic network seeks to identify new and innovative information and monitoring systems necessary to guide the SDGs, as well as existing approaches to data collection, compilation, analysis, and dissemination that might help data users to overcome gaps and limitations. The network members are actively engaged in Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data launched in September 2015.