The EITI Board concluded that despite significant progress in transparency in the oil and gas sector, Mexico has achieved a low overall score in EITI implementation, due to limited progress in the mining sector. The Board expressed concern over a deterioration in the environment for civil society participation in the EITI process and has concluded that civil society engagement in the EITI is partly met, resulting in Mexico’s temporary suspension pending improvements of civic space that will be assessed in the next Validation, scheduled to commence in July 2024.
Mexico joined the EITI in 2017 and has used the EITI platform to air grievances and work to build consensus on issues that have historically been a source of contention in the extractive sector. However, the Board concluded that the objective of civil society’s full, active and effective engagement in the EITI process is partly met, given a deteriorating environment for civil society’s freedoms of expression and operation in engaging in public debate around the extractive industries.
The Validation process has identified credible reports that fears of intimidation and reprisals have caused self-censorship among civil society actors in relation to the management of natural resources and the EITI process. This has contributed to an environment of public stigmatisation of civil society and a rising trend of violence against journalists and civil society working on issues of extractive industries and governance.
“The Board’s assessment that the objective of an enabling environment for civil society participation in the EITI process is partly met reflects serious concerns over breaches of the EITI protocol on civil society participation,” said Helen Clark, EITI Board Chair. “Mexico’s progress with data disclosures will only translate into accountable management of the country’s natural resources if there is genuine oversight of EITI implementation, with attention to active outreach and dissemination around the findings of the EITI process. I urge all stakeholders in Mexico, led by the government, to make swift adjustments in line with the urgent and necessary corrective actions agreed by the EITI Board.”
Strong basis for transparency, unequal progress
Although Mexico’s economy has diversified during the last two decades, the extractive sector still constitutes a major source of government income and is an important engine of the Mexican economy, accounting for around 6% of GDP in 2018. Mexico has emerged as a leader in the region on systematic disclosure of oil and gas sector data, thanks to routine reporting on government platforms and systems. Information on oil and gas contracts, production levels, economic contribution and employment is disclosed in near real-time through accessible government portals. The national oil company Pemex has made progress in publishing most of the information required by the EITI Standard and systematically discloses its procurement contracts. Mining exports, employment and economic contributions are also disclosed systematically on Data México.
While Mexico made advances on the systematic disclosure of information required by the EITI Standard, particularly in oil and gas, progress in transparency related to the mining sector was low. As a major producer of oil, silver, copper and gold, Mexico can further strengthen government disclosures on mining to respond to public demands, particularly on its social and environmental impacts, company ownership and the gender aspects of the industry.
Sustaining public debate
The Mexico EITI Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG) has provided a forum for debate and analysis about the governance of the extractive industries, although the balance of different constituency views has not always been consensual or conducive to compromise. With support from the Mexican government and international donors, such as the GIZ and USAID, the MSG has published three EITI Reports to date and will soon publish its fourth. Mexico has used its EITI implementation to inform planned transparency reforms, such as on beneficial ownership transparency and environmental monitoring. However, Mexico EITI could place further attention on disseminating EITI findings and following up on recommendations to strengthen its contribution to public debate and policy-making.
Time to take stock
After five years of implementation, the time is ripe for Mexico EITI to review the outcomes and impact of the EITI to date. Taking stock of lessons learned and of the impact could provide key inputs to annual work planning in order to ensure that Mexico EITI’s activities build on the strengths of implementation, address gaps and lead to concrete results and outcomes.
While civil society’s engagement in the EITI has been robust and dynamic, there is evidence that constraints to broader civic space in Mexico have had an impact on the freedoms of expression and operation of civil society representatives engaged in the EITI process. The MSG should further consider the impact of civic space constraints on public debate around natural resource management. The EITI should provide a safe space for discussions of constraints on civil society’s engagement in the natural resource governance debate. Any curbs on civil society’s ability to fully, actively and effectively participate in EITI implementation must be addressed.