Natural resources and development
Access to energy services and security of supply are becoming increasingly important issues in global interest structures. Without a secure, sustainable and affordable energy supply , prosperity, health and mobility remain out of reach. While global energy demand is rising, however, fossil energy resources and availability are continuing to decrease. The oil era is coming to an end, with devastating consequences, especially for developing countries with no oil resources of their own. They have to spend an increasing proportion of their very limited foreign exchange on fuel. But even for developing countries with major oil reserves, the increasing market scarcity of oil is something of a mixed blessing. The major consumers have already started a "run" on the remaining sources, with negative consequences for people, the environment and peace. However, this development also offers an opportunity: to turn our backs on oil as our number one energy source and to pursue new pathways. The expansion of renewable energies, combined with efficiency and energy saving measures , is therefore integral to the Green policy agenda. This offers the most peaceful options for the future. It protects the climate and the environment, reduces economic dependency in importing and exporting countries, and promotes diverse forms of development. Nuclear power is not the solution to energy and environmental problems; on the contrary, it will increase the developing countries' dependency, heighten the threat to security, and burden humankind with massive costs for many thousands of years to come.
However, other natural resources besides oil are also becoming scarce. And yet in the countries with the largest mineral deposits, most of the population derives no benefit from them: approximately 29 per cent of the world's one billion poorest people live in countries where resource wealth dominates the economy. To curb this trend, the international community must help to establish an effective international governance regime for these resources, which must safeguard compliance with social and ecological standards and increase transparency in the use of revenue from resource extraction.
Initial approaches have been made with Publish What You Pay (PWYP), a civil society initiative, and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), with government participation. However, if we are genuinely to achieve more equitable distribution of wealth and guard against ecological risks, banks, investment funds and pension funds must also be involved. The same applies to China, India and Brazil, which are becoming increasingly powerful actors on the world stage.
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