Addressing the “Green Resource Curse” in Sub-Saharan Africa

March 2023
ELR 10212
Tracy Stein, Carl Bruch, and Jordan Dieni

The global transition to a carbon-neutral economy will bring about a surging demand for land and for minerals required in renewable energy technologies. It brings the threat of conflict between those seeking to develop these resources and those who live on the lands and risk displacement, loss of livelihood, and environmental contamination. These risks are particularly acute in Sub-Saharan Africa, though many Sub-Saharan countries have adopted legislation to prevent and peacefully resolve disputes. This Article summarizes the relevant legal provisions in 48 countries that could prevent, reduce, and resolve conflicts over land and minerals, including laws that recognize customary land rights, protect the environment, require compensation and benefit sharing, guarantee access to information and participation, and provide for access to justice. It details a number of important trends, and finds that many countries have already enacted critical legal provisions which, if implemented and enforced, may help prevent a “green resource curse.”

Tracy Stein is a Visiting Attorney with the Environmental Law Institute (ELI). Carl Bruch is a Senior Attorney and Director of International Programs at ELI. Jordan Dieni is a Visiting Researcher with ELI.

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