Tuesday, October 5, 2010

New Issues and Opportunities in Resource-based Development

Dear Colleagues

I like to see dialog about issues in international development ... and to be a part of it. The problem is that I often take issue with the main conclusions from the dialog.

A big reason for my disagreement is that performance in the international development area has been ... in my view ... unacceptable, and there has been too little discussion about the causes and action to correct the issues arising. This raises the question of WHY has there been so little discussion and action ... so much avoidance of the issue.

The nasty conclusion is, of course, that many of the high profile institutions and people are part of the problem. They are heavily invested in the prevailing methodologies for development and it is tough to change when all of this is at stake. This is a common problem in "management" everywhere, and in my own corporate career I always used metrics to make the case. In the situation with international development, the metrics are inadequate ... or unavailable.

It would have been interesting to participate in this meeting in Washington:
Dear Colleagues,

During the World Bank Group Annual Meetings in Washington DC this week, the Vale Columbia Center is co-hosting a side-event on Wednesday October 6, 10:00-11:30am entitled “New Issues and Opportunities in Resource-based Development,” featuring a talk and discussion with Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

The global economy faces a new wave of resource-based investments in low-income countries. The rising global prices of minerals, food grains, and hydrocarbons have led to greatly up-scaled investment activity in low-income Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Once again the specter of the resource-curse looms. This talk will address the ongoing challenge of converting resource-based investments into successful sustainable development in low-income countries, including the design of tools for that purpose, such as special-purpose natural-resource funds, public-private infrastructure partnerships, and extractive-industry transparency initiatives. A Q&A and discussion following the talk will be moderated by Karin Lissakers, former US Executive Director to the IMF and currently the Director of The Revenue Watch Institute.

Please circulate widely to any of your friends and colleagues who may be interested.

The discussion will be at the World Bank in room MCC-C2. Accreditation is required for non-Bank staff.

This is a unique opportunity to discuss resource development with one of the foremost economists working in the sector at a critical time. There will be significant time for questions and answers in a smaller setting conducive to good discussion.

We hope you can join us.


Karl Sauvant

Karl P. Sauvant, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment
Columbia Law School - Earth Institute
Columbia University
435 West 116th Street, Rm. JGH 638
New York, NY 10027
Ph: (212) 854-0689
Fax: (212) 854-7946
The "resource curse" referred to in this message is a terrible indictment of high level officials in government and high level executives in the corporate world. Bottom line, neither of these groups have done much that they can be proud of to benefit society at large but both government officials and corporate stakeholders have done extremely well financially ... wealth that rightfully should have been the driver of progress out of poverty for many of the poor in developing countries.

TheBurgessMethod (TBM) has drawn on my experience in many developing countries ... including work in Government Financial Management. Big people and powerful organizations have done everything they can over a very long time to avoid the accounting and accountability that is basic to the management of resources.

I am still owed remuneration from a World Bank assignment almost 30 years ago ... unpaid because I refused to lie about project performance ... the country government officials were mad, and so were the World Bank officials. My analysis was solid ... my conclusions were right ... the ethical correctness of my decision was quite clear. Subsequently the government and the World Bank ignored what our team had reported ... and essentially went on to lose millions of dollars. High cost ... no development!

The "resource curse" is really bribery and corruption totally out of control ... and nobody prepared to stand up to high level wrong-doing!

Peter Burgess

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