Getting the Most Out of Our Natural Resources

Getting the Most Out of Our Natural Resources

If you ask someone, “What is a major key for the success and failure of economic development in many countries?” chances are the response won’t be minerals and energy sources.

Yet, oil, gas, and mining investments and the vast revenues they generate can be a positive, even transformational force in developing countries—but only if they are properly harnessed and handled in a pragmatic way through effective policies, frameworks, and oversight. Otherwise, these same resources have the potential to invite instability, corruption, and negative environmental impacts to regions.

With further education on this complex issue, practitioners and the general public could help to better manage the extraction of raw materials. So, the Open Learning Campus recently launched a twice-yearly, free massive open online course (MOOC): Natural Resources for Sustainable Development: The Fundamentals of Oil, Gas, and Mining Governance.

The 12-week course was developed by the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment and the Natural Resource Governance Institute, in partnership with the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the Open Learning Campus , and the World Bank Extractive Industries team.

Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute and Sustainable Development Solutions Network and an instructor for the course, says, “We can define the timelines of human history according to what is brought up from the ground. Investments in extractive industries can contribute significantly to sustainable development, through the transfer of capital and technology, linkages with local industries, infrastructure development, and capacity building.”

Sachs says this course takes up the extractive sector in all of its complexity: economics, law, social inclusion, environmental sustainability, and geopolitics. For example, learners will explore the interrelated aspects of natural resource governance, environmental challenges and trends, impact on and engagement with local communities, and managing revenues for economic diversification and development, among many topics.

Instructors and visiting experts will hold several real-time discussions on Google Hangout so that students can ask questions and engage directly with the instructors and leading practitioners working in the field. In discussion forums, students from around the world bring their own perspectives and experiences to the learning. The course has its own Twitter handle at #ExtractivesMOOC.

The Open Learning Campus offers MOOCs because of their potential to raise awareness and sensitize a large, global, and diverse audience on complex development topics. They offer an interactive platform for a lively exchange among experts and participants. Today’s online community is influential, and the MOOC is a powerful tool that can be tailored to use that community to strengthen support for the global development agenda. Visit the Open Learning Campus calendar or WBa section for a full listing of MOOCs.



• Jeffrey Sachs’ blog on the course

• Video trailer for the course Video trailer for the course

• Follow #ExtractivesMOOC on Twitter.

• World Bank Extractive Industries web page