Natural resources, climate change and inequality in Africa

Authored by: James C. Murombedzi

The Routledge Handbook of the Political Economy of the Environment

Print publication date:  October  2021
Online publication date:  October  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367410704
eBook ISBN: 9780367814533
Adobe ISBN:


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Inequality between and within countries is growing and becoming more acute as neoliberal globalization accelerates. In Africa, encounters with colonialism exacerbated existing inequalities and set the stage for new inequalities which have continued into the post-independence era, amplified by the imposition of structural adjustment programmes. The colonial encounters in particular were defined by extraction of natural resources which led to dispossessions but also created opportunities for accumulation for indigenous elites. Globalization has informed accelerated resource extraction, dispossession and unprecedented poverty levels. Climate change has also amplified these dynamics, the long-term effects of which have been starkly laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic which threatens to eviscerate Africa’s economies. Inequality threatens the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, while equitable development can contribute towards eliminating poverty and ensuring a healthy climate system.

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