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The dichotomy of working with the Extractives Sector

Working with the extractives sector might appear to present a conflict of interest with objectives to protect wildlife, associated ecosystems, communities and livelihoods within or adjacent to Africa’s National Parks, Wildlife Reserves and Corridors. It is surely also at odds with a world striving towards carbon neutrality and truly sustainable solutions to arrest climate change.

In the ideal world, it would of course be good to see an end to the extraction of natural resources. They are a finite resource, their extraction and use contributes towards global warming and climate change. They cannot be extracted without negative impacts on the natural world. But we do not live in the ideal world.

Natural Resources touch nearly every aspect of our lives. We still currently need these resources to support the generation of power, water treatment and distribution, transportation, housing and manufacturing of all sorts of goods and equipment including the batteries powering the new generation of electric vehicles! Foundation Five (F5) recognises this dichotomy but there is currently no practical alternative. Partnerships with government and industry create an opportunity to influence the responsible extraction of natural resources to minimise environmental damage, promote conservation, protection of livelihoods and site remediation at the end of project life.

Further, the consequences of Covid-19 are diverse and far reaching. The pandemic is creating livelihood uncertainty across the developed world. Circumstances are driving traditional charitable donors (personal and institutional) to cease or withhold funds or reduce donations. Governments are fully engaged in the fight against Covid-19 and are focussed on balancing priorities to protect their citizens and support economies. On the ground, local Covid-19 management strategies are restricting patrolling activities and poaching is once again increasing in areas where it had previously been brought under control. Finance to support wildlife and ecosystem conservation is drying up, right at the time it is most required.

F5 offers a new philanthropic way, 'hitchhiking' on international trade to generate funds. There are no charges for government or industry to participate. In the circumstances, what’s not to like?

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