In recent years we have witnessed the growing interest of Latin American and Caribbean countries in obtaining support to develop the extractive sector sustainably. In order to respond more effectively to their expectations, a coherent and long-term vision is needed about the role of extractive industries in terms of the development and economic diversification of countries. Indeed, the management of natural resources can – and should – have a transformative and positive effect on the economies of the region.
At the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), we want to contribute to creating the necessary conditions for the sector to fulfil its potential in a responsible, inclusive and sustainable manner.
To achieve this potential, governments must adopt laws and policies that, in addition to attracting investments, ensure the efficient and transparent management of revenues, as well as the application of best practices to protect the environment and benefit local communities. In addition, the industry, in the context of regulatory stability, must constantly pursue the attainment of these practices and the generation of shared value in the territories in which it is present. Finally, civil society must forge the capacities necessary to actively participate in a virtuous process of dialogue and collaboration with government and industry, which must also be able to accept and comprehend communities’ expectations.
At the IDB we have seen greater success when a structured, effective and forward-looking response is given to the challenges of the sector through the actions of governments while also addressing the needs of companies and communities.
As far as the extractive industries are concerned, we have been surprised by the relative consensus of the actors on the potential of the sector to promote inclusive and sustainable development under certain conditions. On the other hand, we have also discovered some notable differences in points of view. Both the industry and communities, for instance, see extractive projects through a long-term lens, although often daily challenges lead them to prioritize immediate demands. In turn, due to the nature of political cycles, governments can also lose sight of long-term goals. These differences, however, are not irreconcilable.
Having a long-term vision is an indispensable factor in bringing parties together and generating consensus to plan the development of the sector.
That is why we support initiatives such as the First Public-Private Dialogue of the Extractive Sector in the Pacific Alliance, held on November 28 and 29 in Santiago, Chile, with the participation of representatives from the government, industry and civil society from Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. This was the first meeting of its nature at the regional level and served as the basis for the drafting of a shared narrative and vision about the role of the sector in regional development.
This is not just about a meeting. It is a path to fostering bonds of trust through joint and continuous work. These are the first steps in the creation of a permanent and inclusive multi-stakeholder dialogue that promotes a strategic vision on the role of the sector –based on the development and integration of value chains created within a framework of social responsibility– in promoting the socioeconomic development of Pacific Alliance member countries. In this regard, we believe that this event underpins efforts and lays the foundation for a more effective engagement between interested players.
The IDB, given its composition and experience, is in a privileged position to support the different parties involved in this work. As the Technical Secretariat, it will facilitate dialogues that aim at jointly finding answers to key challenges, sensitive both to national and regional nuances, while promoting technical knowledge exchanges and compiling best sector practices.