Memorandum: Resource Politics for a Fair Future

Memorandum: Resource Politics for a Fair Future

Photo: Ines Meier. Creative Commons License LogoThis image is licensed under Creative Commons License.

From the extraction of tar sands in North America to large-scale land purchases in Africa and from China’s investment in the Mekong region to mining and soya production in Latin America – the global resources bonanza is a fact. But all this use of natural resources doesn’t respect the ecological limits of our world and it doesn’t result in a fair distribution of the profits.

This Memorandum is the outcome of a two-year process. With the dialogue project “Resource Equity in a Finite World” the Heinrich Böll Foundation brought together young people from 29 countries who have examined resource issues in their respective regions in ten “future workshops” in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Delegates of each future workshop brought their experiences, ideas and visions to Berlin, where they spent two days with the international Heinrich Böll Foundation team, discussing and developing these ideas further. The process was supported by an advisory board consisting of eleven internationally renowned environmentalists and human rights experts.

With the Memorandum the Heinrich Böll Foundation offers a perspective which combines democracy, ecology and human rights and lays out fundamental ways forward that can form the basis for fair and sustainable Resource Politics.

Publications & Products

Cover: Resource Politics for a Fair Future

Publication Series on Ecology 38: How could a just and democratic resource politics look like that respects both planetary boundaries and human rights? The Memorandum “Resource Politics for a Fair Future” is the outcome of a two-year international dialogue process of the Heinrich Böll Foundation.

All graphics of the publication "Resource Politics for a Fair Future" are licensed under a Creative Commons license (CC-BY-NC-ND). You can download the files in jpg format here.

All chapters of the publication Resource "Politics for a Fair Future" are licensed under a Creative Commons license (CC-BY-NC-ND). You can download the single chapters in pdf format here.

La seria de escritos ecología: La pregunta toral que nos hacemos es: ¿cómo se necesita organizar el uso de los recursos naturales de manera que se respeten los límites ecológicos de nuestro planeta y, al mismo tiempo, se fortalezcan los derechos humanos y la democracia? Ese Memorándum define un conjunto de principios e ideas para una política de los recursos en un triángulo de justicia socioeconómica, ambiental y democrática con una perspectiva internacional.



Global visions for responsible resource use and changes necessary - Read the statements of the international participants of the Berlin conference.

Nuclear plants are regarded as renewable energy source in China

Ting Xu is Project manager of Beijing New Century Academy on Transnational Corporations and took part at the Future Workshop Thailand/Myanmar/China/Cambodia where also this interview was conducted.

Aynak, a city south-east of Kabul in Afghanistan, is the site of a large copper deposit

Saeeda Gouhari is Gender & Livelihoods Officer at Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). She was one of the participants of the Future Workshop India and Afghanistan where this interview was conducted.

Bright textiles at a shopping center in Cambodia

Resource issues are affecting Western countries. But even more severe are the effects these countries cause on the environment elsewhere. In this interview Lennart Kümper-Schlake explains why.

Smog and pollution in Buenos Aires

Ana Di Pangracio is Deputy Director at Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales FARN. She was one of the participants of the Future Workshop Chile/Argentina/Brasil where this interview was conducted.

Oil raffinery in Nigeria

Andrew Chibuzor Iloh, Nigeria – Future Workshop Nigeria Research Scientist

The project: 29 countries, ten future workshops, one dialogue

The international dialogue project aims to engage young academics, activists and policy makers in a cooperative and creative debate. An important milestone in this process will be the Alternative Resource Summit in September 2013.
A worker maintains crops at the Farah City Agricultural School.

Water as a main natural resource is severely stressed in Afghanistan, as many other natural resources in the country. Yet the economy is too weak to overcome current and future challenges.

Textile worker washing a jeans

The predominant models of growth are completely misleading. The authors therefore are calling for a new approach that is "Rethinking Everything" that is linked with resource politics.

Mining pit in China: Only few benefit from the richness in the extractive industry

Resource-rich but low-income countries often lack a sustained and equitable development. Now an initiative for the extractive industry aims to support governments with new policies and practice.

Trash on a beach

Do the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the individual? Some of the most heated arguments during the Future Workshop in Prague originated from this conflict.

Anti-capitalist grafitti from Chile

A major obstacle in conflict-ridden countries is related to the centrality of the markets. During the Future Workshop in Cono Sur participants discussed the linked socio-environmental conflicts.

Oil raffinery in Nigeria

Andrew Chibuzor Iloh, Nigeria – Future Workshop Nigeria Research Scientist

Drip irrigation is one method of many to reduce water stress

In the Horn and East African region many conflicts arise over natural resources at community and even national level. Only a policy and legal framework could ensure protection of all the citizens' rights.

Participants discussed plans of action for the resource sector during the Future Workshop in Bangkok

The production and distribution of natural resources are complex and multi-level. The participants of the Bangkok Future Workshop therefore discussed difficulties and solutions for the commons.


In the Future Workshop: "Resource Governance in 21st Century" participants from India and Afghanistan discussed possible solutions to key natural resource management problems.


To ensure that the oil, gas and mining sector is a blessing for all Cambodians, transparency is the key.


Food and agricultural policies are one of the main concerns for the people from México, Central America and the Caribbeans. New frameworks should f.e. respect ancestral farming practices.

In Afghanistan more than 1,400 minerals such as oil, gas and coal or gold have been discovered

Afghanistan is abundantly rich in natural resources. Although the country is facing a lot of problems, mining could have the potential to be a driver of poverty reduction and economic growth.


The momentum to re-empower people and re-establish their connection to natural resources is inevitable today. Participants of the HBS-Workshop in Hasankeyf worked on the chances of enviromental activism.

Drip irrigation is one method of many to reduce water stress

In the Horn and East African region many conflicts arise over natural resources at community and even national level. Only a policy and legal framework could ensure protection of all the citizens' rights.


The Future workshop in Hasankeyf, Turkey, with participants from Turkey, Lebanon, Palestine and Egypt focused on solutions that could improve the current environmental situation in the Middle East.

Many farmers lose their land in Africa because it is used for the extraction of natural resources

In the Horn and East African region, there are many conflicts over natural resources at community and even national levels. The bigger part arises from deficient water supply and pasture for livestock.

Graffiti from Istanbul exemplifying the power of a critical mass

The claims and arguments in this essay have been inspired by exciting discussions during the “Future Workshop on Resource Equity" organized in Hasankeyf (Turkey) in Fall 2012.

Jagoda Munic, chairperson of Friends of the Earth International, says why she's inspired by the resource politics memorandum and what makes it unique.

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Oxford University’s Kate Raworth explains where mainstream economics is going wrong and how the resource memorandum can steer us in the right direction.

Sunita Narain, director of CSE in India on how the memorandum is a critical change in the global debate and why people need to listen.

Video: RSA Shorts - Growth is Not Enough

Voice: Kate Raworth
Animation: Marija Jacimovic
Design: Milan Perisic
Production: Benoit Detall

This RSA ( video is licenced under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.


Jul 19
Foundations for the economy of tomorrow

Impressions from the Future Workshops


cover raw material strategy

Nearly two years after the German Government’s raw materials strategy was first published in October 2010, the present paper takes stock of how individual core elements of the raw materials strategy have been put into practice, with a focus on the promotion of foreign trade and on development cooperation.

cover rohstoffstrategie

Knapp zwei Jahre nach der Veröffentlichung der deutschen Rohstoffstrategie im Oktober 2010 gibt das folgende Papier eine Bestandsaufnahme der Umsetzung einzelner Kernelemente mit dem Schwerpunkt auf Außenwirtschaftsförderung und Entwicklungszusammenarbeit.

The worldwide and sustainable transition of energy systems will only succeed if the economic and technological capacities of all countries are involved. Few developing countries have considerable production capacities for climate-friendly technologies. If the creation of attractive enabling environments in the global South goes hand in hand with new ways of careful export support in the global North, this will work as a global and fair Green New Deal.
This new report reveals, for the first time, data on resource use and resource effi ciency for all countries of the world over three decades, from 1980 – 2008. The data covers the global, continental and country level, featuring illustrative case studies. 
cover resource politics

Publication Series on Ecology 26: Natural resources are back on the agenda. This paper underlines a new dimension of international relations and pleads for new approaches, called international resource politics, which can be used for ongoing debates concerning green economy and transition strategies.

cover kritik gruene oekonomie

Publication Series on Ecology 22: The idea of growth as the way to end poverty and escape economic and financial crisis remains largely undisputed and is currently reflected in the concept of the green economy. But not everything that is “green” and efficient is also environmentally sustainable and socially equitable. This essay outlines a policy of less, of wealth in moderation, to enable the Earth’s resources to make a life of dignity and without need possible for all.

At Rio+20, the concept of the "green economy" focuses on industrial production from biomass as one way to overcome fossil fuel dependency. The push for a bio-based economy comes with a call for market-based mechanisms for the financialization of the Earth’s natural processes, re-branded as ‘ecosystem services’, which also encourage land and water grabs. 
Although the world's population has reached seven billion people, there is sufficient food in the world to feed the global population. Still about 1 billion are undernourished. How can we feed the world? And what role do environmental issues in agriculture play?
cover marginal oil

This paper is a document that describes the drivers behind marginal oil investments and gives an overview of existing and potential projects across the globe. It contains important analysis that should be public knowledge and will productively feed the ongoing debate, from Cancun to Durban to Rio and beyond.

Global struggles over access to ever-scarcer natural resources are in full swing. Power im-balances, regulatory and democratic shortcomings, unbridled corporate power and blind belief in new technologies need a counterweight.


Articles and publications sorted according to the resource they focus on. Due to the nexus between the different resources, most of the studies touch upon more than one resource.

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Despite the current financial "crisis" investors are pouring money into mining companies and projects, with potentially negative consequences for thousands of communities around the world. Launched in 2008, and now available as a regularly-updated data base, "From Money to Metals" is a vital resource to discover who is funding what, and where, in one of the most potentially destructive of all global industries. By Nostromo Research, 2009. more»