Scholars seeking a positive example of the possibility of achieving sustainable development based on natural resources often cite Botswana. Unlike many exporters of extractive resources, this mineral exporter has maintained a record of strong economic growth and dramatic improvements in socioeconomic conditions since the 1970s. Most observers attribute Botswana’s remarkable performance to good macroeconomic management, seen as a reflection of the quality of the country’s institutions and leadership. But Botswana also differs from other resource-dependent countries in another important respect: the unusual stability of global markets for its main export. Diamonds are luxury goods historically characterized by exceptionally low market volatility. The decline of the De Beers-led international diamond cartel and growing demand for diamonds as investments, however, have increased price volatility over the past decade and raise the likelihood of future market volatility. The paper will evaluate changes in the volatility of global markets for diamonds and in Botswana’s revenue streams, and consider what increasing market volatility implies for the future feasibility of diamond-dependent development. The findings will contribute to both theoretical debates about the potential contribution of extractive resources to sustainable development and practical debates about development strategies in Botswana’s diamond-dependent economy.
About the Speaker: Professor Amy Poteete is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Concordia, Fellow of the Loyola Sustainability Research Centre, and the author of numerous studies on sustainable development, collective action, participatory policy processes, and decentralization.