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Dr Ricardo Soares de Oliveira will work with Mr Ian Gary of Oxfam America to help governments produce better policies in extractive industries for the benefit of their countries and citizens.

Image credit: fatigue by papagaio-pirata via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

In this ESRC IAA Kickstarting Impact project, Dr Ricardo Soares de Oliveira will work with Mr Ian Gary of Oxfam America to help governments produce better policies in extractive industries for the benefit of their countries and citizens.

Some 3.5 billion people live in countries rich in oil, gas or minerals. Revenues from these extractive industries can transform a country and the lives of its citizens, by reducing poverty and increasing prosperity, provided they are managed well.

More than 15 years into the natural resource governance reform effort, many of the problems that remain in resource-dependent countries are political, rather than technical. Generally governments know what they should be doing with their extractive industry sector – or have the opportunity to learn – but few put this knowledge into practice.

Many aid organisations now understand the political nature of the issues and use political economy analysis to inform their strategies and programmes. Political economy analysis looks at the ways that political and economic processes interact in a society. It can help in setting realistic expectations of what can be achieved and over what timeframe, as well as identifying the risks involved.  But too often the results have been downplayed or even ignored by aid organisations because they don’t say the ‘right’ thing.

Oxfam’s global Extractive Industries Program now operates in more than 30 countries with an annual budget of more than US$6 million. Oxfam is actively working to address the political economy and power dynamics in resource-dependent countries and is a leading player in ongoing global regulatory efforts.

Together Dr Soares de Oliveira and Oxfam America will identify obstacles standing between academia and NGOs/civil society, such as differing incentives and timing problems. They will co-produce a report on the status of political economy analysis and a project outline for a pilot country scheme.  In addition, they will hold a workshop with participants from the Oxfam Extractive Industry Program, Oxfam GB and the wider Oxford University community. The focus of this workshop will be the presentation and discussion of the co-written report and the consideration of next steps.

This knowledge exchange project will bring to Oxfam America and its civil society partners worldwide a greater understanding of how political economy analysis is being used, and can be used, by NGOs in the extractive industry governance space.  It will also provide Oxfam with concrete guidance in developing more effective campaign strategies and in making better tactical decisions through the use of practical political economy analysis.

Dr Soares de Oliveira is Associate Professor in African Politics in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford.  Ian Gary is Associate Policy Director, Fueling Development for Oxfam America.

This project was funded by Oxford's ESRC Impact Acceleration Account.

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