March 25, 2013

In recent years, large discoveries of coal and natural gas in the African nation of Mozambique have made it the target of the world's largest extractive companies. Because Mozambique is one of the world's poorest countries, with nearly 80 percent of the population living below $2 (USD) a day, natural resources could prove an economic miracle that brings millions out of poverty, or a curse that exacerbates poverty, damages precious ecosystems, increases inequality, and creates conflict.

The Mozambique Governance Watch Capstone team, advised by Professor Jenik Radon, is preparing a comprehensive report for Mozambique's government on equitable and stable natural resource extraction that takes into account social, environmental, legal and economic considerations. This project builds on Professor Radon's previous Capstone Workshops in Africa, as well as recent research conducted by Columbia University's Earth Institute.

Earlier this month, 10 team members traveled to Mozambique's capital, Maputo, and to extraction sites in the country’s north. They met with local nonprofits, international NGOs, extraction companies, local communities and several government ministries.

The team reports that the insight and firsthand experience gained on this trip will guide their research and analysis, and help fulfill their goal of creating a report that addresses international best practices, case studies, and Mozambique's unique circumstances. Members aim to formulate implementable recommendations that incorporate the knowledge and concerns of the Mozambique government, international organizations and stakeholders on the ground. They also plan to prioritize the most pressing issues, noting that reform can only be achieved over time.

Pictured above (L-R) are James Meisenheimer MPA ’13, Nils Mueller of USAID, Leena Khan MPA-DP ’13, Ambassador Douglas M. Griffiths, Professor Jenik Radon, Alex LaBua MIA ’13 , Maree Newson Law ’13/Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment, and Justin Lin MIA ’13.

Share your Capstone progress with SIPA's editorial director, Marcus Tonti.