The maiden edition of the College of Research Associates' Conference (CRAC) of the United Nations University Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA) is underway in Accra.

The two-day Conference, covering three key areas-Natural Resources Accounting, Trade and Green Economy; Governance, Policies and Institutions for Natural Resources Management; and Science, Technology and Innovation-will serve as a platform for the sharing of innovative policies and best practices in the sustainable management of natural resources in Africa.

It is being organized by UNU-INRA on the theme: 'New Frontiers in Natural Resources Management in Africa'.

Delivering the key note address entitled: 'Domestication and localization of (natural resources-related) Sustainable Development Goals in Africa' at the opening of the Conference in Accra, yesterday, Prof. Godwell Nhamo, Chairman, Exxaro Chair in Business and Climate Change, University of South Africa (UniSA), said the natural resources-related United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) should be mainstreamed within existing policies and institutional arrangements.

In addition, Prof. Nhamo said, there was the need for the 17 goals and 169 targets of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) to be cascaded from the global to the continental, national, state/province, local government and, ultimately, corporate level for implementation.

He said understanding the various ways in which the natural resources-related SDGs and their targets could be implemented was, therefore, fundamental to the successful implementation of the SGDs.

Furthermore, he said, the efficiency in domestication and localization of (natural resources-related) SDGs would require the machinery of governments to respond quickly by drawing up appropriate indicators to establish baselines for measuring, reporting and verifying implementation and progress.

Welcoming participants, Dr Elias T. Ayuk, Director UNU-INRA, University of Ghana, Legon, noted that the exchange of information, ideas and experiences would enhance understanding of the issues and challenges facing Africa with respect to the management of its resources and the actions needed to overcome the challenges.

Dr Ayuk explained that the idea of CRAC was borne out of the need to identify senior members in the respective universities to assist in mentoring the younger professionals and to serve as a Think Tank as well as provide leadership to UNU-INRA.

He expressed regrets that 20 years back, the CRAC idea was initiated, but failed to materialize, stressing that there was the need to revitalize the group in order to be able to build capacities for natural resource management in Africa within the next twenty years.

He was confident that the two-day meeting would help map out new frontiers in the management of the Africa's natural resources, particularly as the continent was part of the global community and had a responsibility to discharge towards the SGDs.

Dr Ayuk charged the five Operating Units (OUs) consisting of a multi-disciplinary group of researchers located in selected institutions-the University of Yaounde I, Yaounde, Cameroun, University of Cocody, Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, University of Namibia, Windhoek, Namibia, Institute for Food Technology (ITA) of the Ministry of Mines and Industry in Dakar, Senegal and the University of Zambia, Lusaka, Zambia- to assist CRAC in addressing the key challenges of natural resource management in Africa.

UNU-INRA, one of the 14 Research and Training Centres /Programmes (RTC/Ps) that constitute UNU, was established in 1986 and mandated to contribute to the sustainable development of Africa's natural resources in a way that maintains the quality of the natural environment and transforms lives.

UNU-INRA's work centres on Africa's two most important endowments-human and natural resources- and its domain as a research institution is natural resource management, with a strategic program area on governing and managing the extractive industries in Africa.

Operating from its main office in Accra, Ghana, UNU-INRA carries out its programme of activities through a network of OUs and CRAC which support research institutions and researchers to enhance their capacities to undertake studies that generate evidence-based knowledge in the area of natural resource management in Africa to inform policy formulation and the implementation of strategic governance frameworks for Africa's development.

On the other hand, CRAC was launched in 1999, following an institutional capacity assessment which revealed inadequacies in research infrastructure and the training of critical human resource personnel in natural resources management in the universities and research institutions across Africa.

CRAC was, therefore, a response by UNU-INRA to the challenges confronting natural resource management on the Africa continent which required solutions.

Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney)