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EITI International Secretariat: The Road Ahead

EITI International Secretariat: The Road Ahead

13 December 2019

Much has happened in the year since I joined the EITI Secretariat as Executive Director. We have launched a revised EITI Standard, addressing new areas of transparency such as contracts, state-owned enterprises, commodity trading, gender and environment. We hosted a successful Global Conference and welcomed a new EITI Board and Chair, the Rt. Hon. Helen Clark, a widely respected global leader on sustainable development and international cooperation. Argentina has joined the EITI as an implementing country, Ecuador and Uganda have committed to membership, and Niger and Equatorial Guinea have submitted fresh applications to join the EITI. We continued engagement with stakeholders in key outreach countries such as Brazil, Lebanon, South Africa and Zimbabwe, on the use of EITI as a tool to improve extractives governance.

These milestones mark a new phase for the EITI and pave the way for us to further strengthen our mandate to promote the open and accountable management of extractive resources. While our core mission remains unchanged, we have ever more sophisticated means of delivering on our ambition to deepen revenue disclosures through open data and policy innovations.

Looking to the future, how do I imagine the EITI to look like three years from now, and what progress do I hope to see? The EITI’s overriding goal is to improve extractives governance for the benefit of citizens in resource-rich countries. In my view, the approach of EITI stakeholders around the world to achieving this goal can be expressed by the notion of collate-share-influence: we collate data and information from government and company sources; we share this data widely to inform public debate and build trust; and we seek to influence decision makers to provide support for reforms.

As we embark on the next steps of this journey, I would like to set out my vision for the road ahead. 

The EITI three years from now: Open, accessible, usable data

Most EITI countries will have embraced systematic approaches to reporting data, presenting it in open formats that are accessible to decision makers and the public. Those furthest along this path will be reporting entirely through government and company systems. Some may continue with some form of reporting but will be supported in planning for a transition to open data. Either way, we will need to continue supporting efforts to ensure data reliability and accessibility.

National multi-stakeholder groups will no longer be limited to commissioning and reviewing reports and Validations, important as this work has been to date. They will increasingly focus on analysing data, shaping policy and disseminating information. 

EITI data will be more widely accessible to citizens, including people in rural areas endowed with natural resources. Women and marginalised groups will increasingly be empowered to access, use and act on this information.

Advancing transparency benchmarks

More countries will have achieved satisfactory progress on Validation. Contract transparency will be the norm, and beneficial ownership information will be widely available, spearheaded by leading EITI companies, such as BHP and Rio Tinto, and EITI member countries, such as Nigeria and Ukraine. More granular data and information will be available on commodity trading. Project-level data will provide information that is specific and relevant to communities affected by extractives operations.  

Contributing to good governance

Through rigorous evaluation, we will improve our understanding of how successful EITI implementation translates into durable governance outcomes, including stronger government capacity, better revenue management, reduced corruption, and an improved investment climate.

Gaining global momentum

We will also look increasingly different. In three years, the EITI will have grown through our collective outreach efforts. This will mean:

  • The EITI will have around 60 member countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, both resource-rich and reform-oriented. We will embrace regional giants like Brazil and South Africa as well as OECD member states like Australia and Chile.

  • It will have more diverse civil society membership, bringing in community and women’s organisations alongside established NGOs, think tanks and advocacy groups. Multi-stakeholder groups will be more diverse and representative, with more active engagement on the part of women.

  • Our cohort of supporting companies will have grown, with stronger representation from Africa, Asia and Latin America and major state-owned enterprises joining our core of 60 global industry champions.

Owned locally, shared globally

The EITI upholds a global standard that recognises and respects the principle of country ownership. We see opportunities to improve coordination so that the EITI as a whole operates more effectively as a unified global network, united by shared principles, values and approaches.

We will build on the strong foundations established since the EITI’s inception to make systematic and sustained gains in extractives governance. This does not mean simply adding new priorities, but acknowledges that the extractives industries are evolving. Our journey is about consolidating the gains, while continuing to address emerging challenges. This means we will remain alert to new opportunities and maintain our relevance, at the same time remaining faithful to our core mission.

For example, we will support our member countries in developing evidence-based policies on the energy transition, to be clearer on what we can contribute to the changes already underway in the sector. We will also demonstrate the integral role we play in the struggle against corruption.

We will become better at communicating these steps in our journey and our collective achievements. We will routinely collect stories of the impacts we achieve across our global network, both through the International Secretariat and across EITI member countries. Support to the multi-stakeholder Board and its constituencies will enable them to be more informed, engaged and decisive. In sum, we are strengthening our systems and procedures to ensure we remain a cutting edge and effective organisation, one that is ready to engage with an exciting future agenda, as one EITI.

Mark Robinson