Natural resource management demands attention to crosscutting and cross-sectoral issues, perhaps to an even greater degree than other areas of development. Many natural resources are subject to multiple uses by multiple users and overlapping and contested claims, all of which raise governance and assurance problems requiring institutional responses at various scales.
'Institutions' include both formal and informal interactions between individuals and groups in society. This definition encompasses organizations such as water user associations and village forestry committees, but also institutions that are more simply normative, for example property institutions such as common property.
Questions of who has access to and control over land and natural resources are central to understanding patterns of rural growth and stagnation, social inclusion and exclusion and natural resource dynamics themselves. These issues are especially relevant and conflicting in situations involving indigenous peoples.
World Bank staff with relevant experience and responsibilities for development projects in all regions of the world have formed a thematic group to focus on the role of institutions in natural resource management. The NRM Institutions thematic group takes the institutional dimensions of natural resource management for its core focus and seeks to promote appropriate and sustainable institutional approaches to rural development and natural resource management.
The main purpose of this group is to enhance the quality of World Bank-supported operations and analytical work, including corporate and regional strategies, country assistance strategies, and World Bank policies and procedures. The group attempts to identify and deliver to World Bank staff and clients, concepts, approaches and skills that can improve the quality of NRM-related operations, analytical and advisory work.