Problems associated with natural resources

Even though natural resources are the support structures of life, too much or too little of it can come with a lot of trouble and conflict.

Too little natural resources:
In many regions of the world, a mix of limited resources, overpopulation, and environmental degradation has produced extreme poverty and income inequality. That, in turn, has fuelled grievances, rebellion, and conflict in society.

Too much natural resources:
This problem is even more in regions with excess natural resources. Greed, corruption, and conflict from revenue distribution, resource ownership, decision-making, management, and access have fuelled local and international conflict.

For example, in Papua New Guinea, The Panguna Copper Mine, once the largest open-pit mine in the world, was the center of violent conflict. Developed in the 1960s, locals were angry about the unfair salaries between local and foreign workers. They were also angry that the government did not give the community a fair share of revenues from the mine. They also had problems with foreign firms exploiting community resources. This conflict continued even after the mine was closed.

Conflict does not occur only in local communities. Third parties (including advanced nations) also have an extreme interest in wealth from natural resources in other regions. That often results in tensions between regions and countries, as well as foster or engage in civil conflicts.

For example, the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), was partly fostered by neighboring states seeking raw materials. It is also believed that the actions of a French Oil Corporation (Elf) escalated the conflict in DRC.

What kind of natural resources are in your country, and do you think some nations are interfering with your country’s resources? What can your leaders do to ensure that there is no conflict from this scenario?

Our research for this topic included these sources:

1. Natural Resources and Conflict, UNEP Report. Case Study, Bougainville, Papua New Guinea:
The Panguna copper mine, Page 61: ISBN: 978-92-807-3433-1.
Accessed on April 22, 2017
2. Natural Resources, Conflict, and Conflict Resolution, UNCOVERING THE MECHANISMS, MACARTAN HUMPHREYS Department of Political Science Columbia University Accessed on April 22, 2017