2018 was an eventful year for the EITI. Over USD 150 billion in extractives revenues was disclosed by the EITI countries in total, and over half of EITI’s 51 implementing countries were assessed against the Standard, of which Colombia, Mongolia, Senegal and Timor-Leste reached the highest level of progress. Efforts to tackle hidden ownership, corruption and mismanagement in the extractives advanced, as EITI countries raced ahead, with new laws, regulations and registers in Ghana, Kyrgyz Republic, Nigeria to name a few.
The International Secretariat underwent its own changes. Jonas stepped down as Executive Director in August, after more than a decade at the helm of the Secretariat. The leadership baton was handed over to Mark, a widely respected figure in the international development community, who joined us from the World Resources Institute (WRI) in November.
At the national level, data disclosed by the EITI was analysed and used by civil society, governments, companies and media to challenge misconceptions, identify poor practices and encourage reforms for better governance of the sector. This multi-stakeholder, data-driven reform approach is what first attracted me to the EITI. We must remember that in an age of growing political polarisation, cross-sector partnerships that build trust and common understanding are a precious commodity.
There are three trends I have observed since joining the EITI as chair in 2016, which I believe will continue to shape our work in the coming year:
- First, the Validation procedure demonstrated that data is increasingly being published online, in open data formats. Examples of this include Liberia and Sierra Leone , which are using a centralised register of mining licenses that lists the largest companies in the country along with their licenses and relevant payments. Guinea has an online contract portal with 71 published contracts. This trend toward digitisation will play a central role in facilitating transparency and accessibility of data in the extractives sector. Our member countries will require more support to increase the pace towards systematic disclosures.
Second, we are seeing ripple effects of the implementation of the EITI Standard, as more disclosures embed good practices. Notably, the EITI’s supporting companies voluntarily drafted and signed up to a set of expectations in 2018 to enhance their commitment to greater transparency. These commitments included full tax transparency, promotion of contract transparency in countries of operation, beneficial ownership disclosure, and due diligence down the procurement chain. In the aftermath, Total became one of the first oil majors to announce that they would advocate countries for the public disclosure of their petroleum contracts and licenses, and Rio Tinto issued a transparency statement, amongst others.
- Third, knowledge and expertise has deepened on frontier issues that are critical for the good governance of the sector such as beneficial ownership, contract transparency and project-level reporting. The EITI is increasingly publishing data that can be used in conjunction with larger data sets. Powerful and sophisticated analysis is being conducted and, consequently, citizens are gaining more knowledge about who is operating in their sector, how much they are making and under what terms at the project level.
I encourage you to consider how these achievements can be consolidated and how we can raise standards and expectations further. We will showcase and celebrate many of these at our Global Conference in Paris next year.
Thank you for your continued support. I wish you a joyous holiday season and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.