• Tokyo Donors’ Conference must help protect Afghan natural resources.

Tokyo Donors’ Conference must help protect Afghan natural resources.

19 June 2012

Civil society organisations are urging donor governments meeting in Tokyo on July 8 to take steps to ensure that Afghanistan’s vast untapped natural resources are exploited transparently and responsibly.

Afghanistan has announced reserves up up to $3 trillion in minerals, oil and gas.  The tendering process - the first step in trying to exploit these resources- is well underway.  Contracts worth billions of dollars have already been signed. 

The organisations believe these resources could potentially be a vital source of revenue for the Afghan government, helping the country move away from aid dependency and increase development.

However, they are concerned at the speed of the tendering process, given Kabul's limited capacity to monitor and regulate these concessions and the lack of sufficient social, human rights and environmental safeguards.

They warn that if not exploited responsibly, mining operations to extract these resources could fuel conflict, corruption and environmental degradation, pointing to the experience of other resource- rich countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cambodia, Iraq, Libya and Sierra Leone.

In a letter to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, they say the Tokyo Conference could be “ a crucial opportunity to strengthen the foundations for a viable industry that benefits all citizens, promotes human development, and contributes to Afghanistan's financial sovereignty”.

The letter outlines detailed steps which need to be taken to ensure that Afghanistan's resources are exploited in an accountable, efficient, effective and transparent way. 

Signatories to the document include Global Witness, Integrity Watch Afghanistan, Revenue Watch, BAAG,  ENNA ( a network of European agencies working in Afghanistan) the Norwegian Afghanistan Committee, Heinrich Boll Stiftung Afghanistan, Publish What You Pay, Equal Access, Khorasan Charity Organization, Open Society Afghanistan and Afghanistan Civil Society Forum.

To read the letter, click here