Equity, Poverty, and the Environment

Too often, public policies favor affluent people and regions, enriching a few powerful political and economic elites while passing disproportionately large social and environmental costs on to poor and disenfranchised populations.

Poverty reduction—especially for the poorest—can be greatly enhanced through policies that promote fair distribution of natural resource benefits. In high-inequity, high-poverty countries, equitable access and fair distribution can be more effective than economic growth alone in reducing poverty. Such reforms are often most effective in countries where natural resources dominate local economies and natural capital is particularly significant in determining the overall distribution of wealth. Even small changes in these policies can have a large effect on building the assets of the poor and reducing poverty.

EPE works with governments, civil society organizations, development assistance agencies and other actors to develop extractive resource revenue management and distribution policies that create economic, political and other incentives in support of poverty reduction, a priority national policy objective in most developing countries. EPE is primarily engaged in several countries in Central and East Africa, including Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. We have also worked in other countries in Africa, East Asia and Latin America.

Our Work

Forestry in Central Africa: EPE’s work is designed to establish policies and practices that increase forest revenue retention among poor populations in Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Increased local retention can promote poverty reduction and create local commitment to sound forest management.

Extractive Resources: EPE conducts research on the management and allocation of public revenues from oil, natural gas and minerals, examining law and practice as well as their affects on rural populations. The work is designed to ensure extractive resources contribute to poverty reduction and development, not civil unrest and conflict.

Land Tenure and Natural Resource Property Rights: EPE conducts research on the law and practice of land and natural resource property rights. Our work is designed to strengthen tenure of land and natural resources held (or claimed) by rural populations—individuals, households, communities—under customary rights.

Decentralization of Natural Resources: EPE examines the effects of natural resource decentralization on democracy, development and the environment. Important lessons learned and best practices are captured in working papers and shared with policymakers and donor agency officials (link to Jesse’s working papers).

Legislative Representation and the Environment: EPE examines the laws, procedures and customs that establish the enabling environment for legislative representation and promotes policies designed to overcome obstacles and create incentives for lawmakers to better represent their constituents’ environmental interests.

World Resources Institute


A Golden Opportunity?: How Tanzania is Failing to Benefit from Gold Mining (PDF)

Publications from Uganda Wildlife Society

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