Managing the Public Trust: How to Make Natural Resource Funds Work for Citizens

Lead PI:

Unit Affiliation: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI)

Unknown start date - Ongoing
Project Type:

DESCRIPTION: Given their collective size – approximately $4.0 trillion in assets as of July 2014 and growing – and concerns about the motivations of their government owners, much has been written on natural resource funds (NRFs), their investments and global influence. However their impacts on governance and public financial accountability at home have received far less attention.

On the one hand, these funds can be used to serve the public interest, for example by covering budget deficits when resource revenues decline, saving for future generations, or helping to mitigate Dutch Disease through fiscal sterilization. On the other hand, they can undermine public financial management and be sources of patronage and nepotism.

The Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI) and Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) have conducted a world-wide survey of NRFs entitled “Managing the public trust: How to make natural resource funds work for citizens,” that looks at NRF management, investments, transparency, and accountability to the public, as well as the fiscal rules that govern them. This project seeks to foster cross-country experience-sharing on fund governance. A number of resources, including policy briefs and NRF profiles have been designed to provide government officials, policymakers, researchers and citizens with information to better understand NRF governance and in particular to equip policymakers with the necessary background to set up funds or reform existing ones.

The NRF profiles research methodology draws on a number of resources for its analytical framework, including Edwin Truman’s Sovereign Wealth Fund Scoreboard and NRGI’s Toolkit for Assessing Oil, Gas and Mineral Revenue Management. Each profile is the product of in-depth study of the laws, regulations and policies governing one or a set of funds in a given country, province or state. Primary sources were used when available and all profiles were peer-reviewed by sovereign wealth fund experts, based in-country where possible.

OUTCOMES: The project was launched at Columbia University in New York on April 8, 2014 and at Brookings Institution in Washington DC on April 9, 2014. The powerpoint of the launch can be found here ( A summary of the proceedings from the roundtable at Brookings Institution can be found here (


Andrew Bauer, Perrine Toledano


Natural Resource Governance Institute


natural resource funds (nrf) public interest finance