The EITI owes much of its development to civil society. In fact, the EITI as we know it today would not exist without civil society's concerted advocacy for extractive companies to publish their payments to host governments. Today, over 400 civil society organisations participate in the governance and implementation of the EITI in 35 resource rich countries around the world.
A NECESSARY INGREDIENT OF THE EITI PROCESS
The EITI standard provides a governance model for advancing revenue transparency in the oil, gas, and mining sectors, stressing the multi-stakeholder approach with an integral role for civil society alongside governments and extractive companies. Therefore, a key element of the EITI’s success lies in its ability to build dialogue and foster collaboration between different stakeholders in the design, monitoring, and evaluation of the EITI.
Civil society’s engagement occurs both on the international EITI Board and in countries implementing the EITI as part of the national multi-stakeholder groups that oversee the EITI. Civil society organisations are fully involved in the EITI process, from preparation to publication of EITI Reports, and most important, in the use of the figures in the EITI Reports. The multi-stakeholder group mirrors the structure of the EITI Board, whereby all relevant stakeholders play an inherently valuable and important role in determining the governance of the EITI and strategic priorities.
SUPPORTING DIALOGUE AND REFORM
The multi-stakeholder approach of the EITI has created a valuable forum for civil society in many implementing countries to discuss revenue transparency. Civil society groups increasingly contribute their expertise and experience to foster this dialogue.
In Cameroon and Timor Leste, civil society groups have been at the forefront of efforts to popularise the EITI. Civil society in Liberia and Niger has been working to support legislation that strengthens and advances the agenda of resource revenue transparency. In Ghana and Peru, the EITI has provided an opportunity for civil society organisations monitoring EITI implementation to start a national dialogue on issues not directly covered by the EITI, including the use of revenues from the extractive sector.
STRENGTHENING CIVIL SOCIETY ENGAGEMENT
Experience emerging from implementing the EITI shows that civil society stakeholders face a number of challenges at the country level, including lack of resources, capacity constraints and security concerns. Reflecting on lessons learned in recent years, the EITI Board has developed a range of policy responses, including strengthening the EITI requirements to ensure that civil society is ‘freely, fully, independently, actively and effectively’ engaged at all stages of the EITI process. The 2011 edition of the EITI Rules provides clear language and direction for stronger civil society engagement. These Rules highlight the need to provide adequate conditions for civil society so it can play its part in improving accountability and transparency in the natural resource sector.
The EITI’s integrity rests on ensuring that civil society has the capacity and ability to play an active role in the EITI in each country, and contribute to successful implementation. This participatory process is one of the significant benefits of the EITI, making it a broad based movement and not just a reporting standard.
The EITI Board is committed to strengthen civil society engagement so that the EITI continues to empower citizens of resource rich countries. We here at the EITI International Secretariat stand ready to help in any way we can.
Marie-Ange Kalenga is Regional Director at the EITI International Secretariat. She follows EITI implementation in Francophone West Africa and is responsible for coordination with civil society organisations.