Happy new year!
As another year ends, I'd like to offer each of you and your families all best wishes for happiness and fulfillment in 2013. I would also like to reflect briefly on the challenges that we set ourselves at the beginning of the year and on those for the coming year.
1. There is a growing challenge to corruption and lack of transparency across the world
2012 has been two steps forward and one step back. Whilst there is still strong demand for improved governance all round the world, this year has been a stark reminder of the difficulty of converting the optimism of the Arab Spring into real progress. We must keep that optimism and build a clearer vision and stronger tools for sustained reform. But as we work with reforming governments such as Tunisia and now more recently Myanmar towards improving transparency and accountability, we need to be supportive yet realistic about how quickly new regimes can implement new policies.
2. The transparency movement is still young, yet growing rapidly
It has been a remarkable year for debates about taxation and information. Whilst there are dangers of campaigners being swamped by new information, the demand for information and the capacity to analyse and use it has never been higher. Lack of transparency is less and less tolerated. EITI is part of that debate but will need to evolve to remain central and relevant.
3. Transparency – from words to action
23 out of 37 countries have produced EITI reports this year, up from 19 in 2011. All but 14 have reports covering data within the past two years. With Iraq and Tanzania becoming EITI Compliant earlier this month, almost half the EITI implementing countries are now EITI Compliant – 18 out of 37. Almost one billion people now have access to information about the revenue from their extractives sector through EITI Reports, often for the first time.
Countries' EITIs are revealing important information. Sierra Leone and the DRC have suffered terrible civil wars over their mineral resources and in both countries, the EITI reveals that their governments are receiving less than $1 per person per year. Elsewhere, however, we are seeing tremendous increases in revenue especially across East Africa and Central Asia . And it is heartening that the EITI reports are part of the debate. There have been many articles in the Nigerian press referring to recommendations for reform using figures from the Nigerian EITI. I have been this year to Mongolia, Mozambique, Peru, and Zambia, and seen how the EITI is helping to inform the public and political debate.
But we are still only at the start of this process. 700 million people still live below US$ 5 a day in resource-rich countries. In too many countries EITI is not yet informing public debate. I talked at the beginning of the year about a consensus for transparency and accountability in the sector, and I hope that 2013 can turn the consensus into reform.
4. The EITI needs to work better
I am grateful to all participants for the progress that we are making on improving the EITI Standard. I am very hopeful that we will launch a better, more relevant EITI Standard in May at the EITI Global Conference in Sydney. But before then we have to reach agreement at the Board . we must all constantly remember that the EITI belongs primarily to the countries where it is implemented. The Board might have one EITI Standard, but the EITI in Congo, Peru or Indonesia belongs to the people of those countries, and they can use it as they wish. We should no longer think about one EITI Standard, but of the 37 national EITIs that are going deeper and wider each year.
But we must not fool ourselves that EITI is the answer to all natural resource governance challenges. We must do more to get useful information into the hands of the citizens and more informed debate about how best to manage natural resource wealth. We should also try to encourage Governments to integrate the best of EITI reporting into their own systems and ensure that EITI works in a complementary way alongside other reform efforts. and. I hope that the EITI reports of the future will become shorter and more useful in helping generate informed debate. It will be a mark of success when an EITI report simply acts as a commentary and a portal on a governments’ own data about its extractive sector, and when the public debate is about the whole sector, not just the revenue.
2013 will be a seminal year for the EITI – a revised Standard and a growing family. It will also mark ten years since the first EITI Conference. We still have a long way to go ensure that natural resource wealth brings greater benefits to the people of resource-rich countries the world over. The EITI Global Conference in Sydney 23-24 May will be the place were many of these deliberations will come to the fore.
I look forward to meeting many of you there and to working with all of you next year to make the EITI more relevant, more used, more enabling, and more rewarding.