President Paul Kagame on Tuesday, May 25 has addressed the Global Roundtable on Extractive Industries, a conference convened online by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, to discuss how to transform the extractive industry into an engine for sustainable development.
In his remarks, President Paul Kagame said the extractive industry has had a bad reputation, where its dividends often don’t reach the public, or its impacts on the environment are not accounted for.
He therefore called for “a new compact” between governments and the private sector to deal with such issues.
On his part, Guterres highlighted the importance of mineral resources, saying they are one of “earth’s great endowments.”
“Their extraction plays a dominant role in the economies of 81 countries,” he said.
“These countries account for a quarter of global Gross Domestic Product, half the world’s population and nearly 70 percent of people living in extreme poverty,” he added.
Noting that these industries generate large amounts of foreign exchange earnings, foreign direct investment and government revenues, and have the potential to drive economic growth and poverty reduction, he expressed dismay that they continue to be associated with a “litany of ills.”
“We cannot escape the fact that extractive industries are also potentially associated with a litany of ills – corruption, exploitation, colonialism and racism; environmental degradation, worsening climate change and biodiversity loss; armed conflict, gender-based violence, population displacement, cultural harm and human rights violations,” he said.
The shared responsibility by leaders, he said, is to ensure that the benefits of mineral resources reach all people in society, not just elites and that it should be done while safeguarding the environment.