The EITI was created to fix a failure of governance in the oil, gas and mining sector and is guided by the belief that a country’s natural resources belong to its citizens. The organisation was born out of a dynamic coalition of committed activists, progressive companies and brave governments who convened to seek consensus on how the sector could be better managed. At the time of its inception, it was a radical idea that civil society organisations would have an equal say on the EITI international Board. At the national level, PWYP has used the EITI process to push for progress with like-minded reformers in governments and companies. Today, the benefits of this multi-stakeholder model are demonstrated by the impact that EITI and PWYP have had together. Revenues worth USD 2 trillion and counting have been disclosed, laws have been rewritten, corruption and mismanagement identified. The database of EITI countries has grown to become the world’s largest and most comprehensive public source of information on upstream, oil, gas and mining.
While governments and companies are vital to the EITI process, there is a special and enduring relationship with PWYP at the national and international level. Civil society organisations are a bulwark against corruption and mismanagement. PWYP has played a crucial role in asking the hard questions, analysing data and demanding reform. The EITI Standard acknowledges this by having a protocol designed to ensure civil society can actively and effectively engage in discussions about resource governance. This is one of many requirements that have kept me following the development of the EITI Standard with a keen interest. That is why, when I was offered the role of Executive Director, I jumped at the opportunity to work with the three constituencies and the vast network of National Secretariats spread across our 51 implementing countries.
Attending the recent PWYP Global Assembly in Dakar was a highlight of my first three months as EITI Executive Director and a great opportunity to reinforce the collaboration between the EITI and PWYP. It was inspiring to be among 700 dedicated civil society activists from resource-rich countries. Our organisations have much to learn from each other and I look forwarding to continuing this collaboration at the EITI Global Conference in June, where PWYP – alongside NRGI, Oxfam, Global Witness and others – will be important contributors. PWYP’s expertise and enthusiasm will certainly energise the important discussions on where and how the EITI’s work can be taken to the next level.
The PWYP and EITI global conferences are a chance to assess what has and has not worked, and what needs to happen next to deepen transparency and accountability in the oil, gas and mining sectors. Successful campaigning by civil society has seen contract transparency, commodity trading, beneficial ownership and a raft of our requirements added to the EITI Standard in the past. The 2019 Global Conference is also a chance for renewal. We will be welcoming a new Board and our new Chair, Helen Clark (former Prime Minister of New Zealand and UNDP Head) in Paris. Going forward, there is a strong desire to see gender and environmental reporting included in some form. Some might see these as being tangential to the EITI’s mission - but they speak directly to the EITI principles, at the heart of which is the acknowledgement that natural resources must benefit all citizens.
I welcome and encourage continued engagement from PWYP on the EITI Standard and cutting-edge policy areas. The past 15 years have shown what can be achieved when there is a spirit of constructive, inclusive and transparent dialogue and decision-making. The challenge for the International Secretariat, the new EITI Board, chair and our stakeholders including PWYP, is to make sure the next 15 years are as ambitious and impactful.