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International collaboration on extractive sector reform and a just energy transition

Speaking on 25 May at the United Nations Global Roundtable on Extractive industries as an Engine for Sustainable Development, EITI Executive Director Mark Robinson explained the role of the EITI in helping countries to maximise the benefits of resources for their citizens and to plan for the energy transition. The session included experts from governments, industry and civil society and was led by UN Secretary General António Guterres.

The presence of oil, gas and mineral resources has the potential to transform societies and economies. But all too often secrecy and opacity have weakened accountability, thereby stalling and reversing sustainable development.

The EITI brings together 55 resource-rich countries around a vision that the wealth generated by the extractive industries must primarily benefit a country’s citizens. Its contribution to realising this vision has been to develop a global standard that promotes the open, accountable and inclusive management of natural resources.

The EITI works to bolster the struggle against corruption, to promote investment to create jobs, and mobilise revenues to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It also aims to foster a level playing field for business. These are vitally important goals in the context of a post-pandemic recovery.

The EITI is founded on a multi-stakeholder governance structure in which governments, companies and civil society have equal representation. It is uniquely placed to play a key role to help inform policy debates and support the implementation of innovative solutions. Building on the experience of our 55 member countries, we call on governments of resource-rich countries represented at today's UN Roundtable on Extractive Industries to join the EITI and commit to establishing a transparent and accountable resource sector.

The energy transition creates opportunities and challenges for resource-rich countries. The EITI is putting the energy transition at the heart of its strategic priorities. We seek to do this by encouraging countries to use data to inform decision making, convening policy makers to consider the implications of the energy transition, and by showing how the EITI can inspire climate action through COP26 and beyond.

We recognise that the effects of the transition on EITI member countries will vary, depending on context, capabilities and resources. We also recognise that many EITI countries have urgent energy needs. We therefore refrain from a one-size-fits-all approach and align with national and local priorities.

The energy transition creates a golden opportunity for countries supplying strategic minerals due to rapidly increasing demand and favourable prices. Countries will only profit from this opportunity if production is undertaken in a responsible, transparent and inclusive manner, and revenues are used to finance the SDGs.

In contrast, countries dependent on coal and oil will face significant challenges as demand falls and an era of volatile prices ensues. EITI data and its multi-stakeholder platform at the national level can help inform policies to support the energy transition and the implementation of long overdue reforms. These include the gradual elimination of coal and oil subsidies and the promotion of alternative sources of employment to ensure a just transition.

Finally, EITI national multi-stakeholder groups can play a key role in informing citizens about the costs and benefits of the energy transition and ensuring that local communities can participate in public dialogue on the transition.

In her closing remarks, UN Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed emphasised the need to bolster transparency and good governance measures in the extractive sector by “enhancing the coordination and exchange of information with the collaborative support of initiatives like the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).”

Ms Mohammed signalled the intent of the UN to work with stakeholders in creating a Working Group on Extractives to help transform the sector and chart pathways to a just transition.