Amid the collapse in global commodity prices, oil, gas and mineral-rich states have to adjust to the new realities of slow economic growth and declining fiscal revenues. In post-Soviet Eurasia, the authorities in resource-rich Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan had to revise their state budgets, cut public investment expenses and enact unpopular currency depreciations to respond to the worsening conditions in global commodity markets. The low commodity prices also reduced the incentives of foreign oil and mining companies to invest in these countries. The ongoing fall in commodity prices has raised the renewed interest in the impact of natural resources on the wellbeing and sustainable development of resource-rich nations. This has reinvigorated the debate about how the authorities in countries dependent on oil and minerals should address the external negative shocks and maintain fiscal balance.
More research on these topics will provide better evidence to help policymakers navigate through economic recession and will enrich the scholarly debate on the so called “resource curse”. It will also help civil society organizations (CSOs) get better prepared for evaluating government policy performance and advocating more effective alternative policy solutions. The availability and better communication of research outcomes can also improve the quality of print and online media coverage of falling oil prices and its consequences. This is key to ensure government accountability and enhance public debate.
However, while these new developments pose major policy challenges to decision makers in these countries, not enough policy-oriented research has been conducted to inform fiscal and monetary policy. There are two main reasons for this. First, there is a general neglect and under appreciation of the impact of research on actual policy. Second, the region lacks strong research capacity and skills especially among youths. As Eurasia’s leading capacity-building and research center on extractives, the Eurasia Regional Extractive Industries Knowledge Hub is currently implementing a strategy to address these needs and serve as a channel for offering policy advice to decision makers, generating research output and providing training courses on relevant research and data analytical skills to younger researchers from the Eurasian region.