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This monograph - the first in a series of studies on natural resource systems theory and methodology - seeks to provide an overview of issues, problems and opportunities for planning and implementing development policies in ways that transform natural resources more effectively. It is addressed primarily to planners, administrators and policymakers who analyze, formulate and carry out programmes and projects in developing countries that affect the transformation and utilization of natural resources and the environment. It seeks to explain the importance of natural resources in national, regional and community development and the importance of transforming them in such a way that they not only benefit people living in areas that are crucially dependent on them but those living wherever the quality of life is linked to them. Indeed, we argue that careful management of natural resources is an inextricable component of wise and effective development planning. To overlook or ignore the natural and environmental implications of development policies is likely to make them inappropriate or perverse.
This study draws heavily on research that was commissioned by the Programme on the Use and Management of Natural Resources of the United Nations University, a more expansive description of which is found in other monographs in this series, and on the growing body of literature in the field of natural resource management in developing nations. Although our study is derived primarily from the experience of countries in East and Southeast Asia, the issues should be easily recognizable to planners, administrators and scientists in other regions of the Third World as well. We have attempted to combine a review of the rapidly-changing state of knowledge about resource issues with normative guidelines for planning and analysis, while at the same time identifying problems about which much more research needs to be done.
As Chapters II and III explain in some detail, changes in the approaches of international assistance agencies and many Third World governments to development policy have placed greater emphasis on using natural resources in ways that are more sensitive to environmental and ecological concerns. The challenge facing planners and administrators in most countries is how to analyze and plan for the use of natural resources in a more effective and responsible way and to manage them so that they can benefit the large numbers of the poor in developing countries who depend on them for their livelihood or survival.
We are not under the illusion that this monograph or the series which it introduces provide satisfactory solutions to the problems inherent in this emerging challenge. But we try to underline the urgency of these problems, identify crucial issues that must be addressed in development policies and strategies, describe the conditions and needs in developing countries, highlight some of the opportunities for using and transforming natural resources more effectively, provide some guidelines for planning, and delineate issues that remain to be explored.
Keeping our primary audience in mind, we have tried to make the implications of the sophisticated and complex research of physical and natural scientists understandable to policy planners and administrators who are often not themselves physical scientists. In so doing, we hope that our scientific colleagues will be tolerant of our need to simplify, and that our policy colleagues will be patient with our need to refer to scientific concepts and terminology.
We have benefitted greatly from the work of the authors of the other monographs in this series, from the assistance and support of Dr. Walther Manshard, who headed the Programme on the Use and Management of Natural Resources when we began this work, and from the advice of a large number of colleagues, especially Professors Dennis Johnson and Ignacy Sachs.
We alone are responsible for the interpretations and conclusions, however, for which neither the UNU nor those who freely gave us assistance should be held accountable.
Dennis A. Rondinelli
Syracuse, New York
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