Something’s cooking

Veronique Deli Meadows, leading Mexico’s efforts to join the EITI, on the ingredients for a meaningful EITI.

What do the EITI, agriculture, climate change and French-Mexican-fusion cuisine have in common? Judging by the life of the new EITI lead in Mexico, Veronique Deli Meadows, the answer is “more than you’d imagine”.

Bringing rich experience into a changing landscape

“I’ve always worked at the intersection between the international issues and the local realities”, Veronique explains. “Whether representing Mexico’s Ministry of Agriculture in international negotiations or as Mexico’s representative for environmental issues at the OECD, I have always been fascinated by the potential that we have as a country within a globalized world to improve the world around us. My passion has always been to find ways to capitalise on that potential.”

Working with stakeholders to prepare Mexico’s candidature to the EITI, Veronique is again doing what she is passionate about. “It’s the right time to be working with these issues in my country. Mexico has recently undergone a restructuring of its energy sector that has led to the modernisation of the industry. Accountability and transparency have been key elements of this process, and it has been important for Mexico to set clear rules for this unprecedented opening of the oil and gas industry to the private sector.

Pulling in the same direction

What can the EITI bring to this shifting landscape? “Joining the EITI can help us build on what we have achieved so far. I’m not saying we wouldn’t be able to achieve our goals without the EITI, but I have no doubt that the EITI will strengthen us in our efforts.”.

What about the mining sector? “Like everything else, the mining sector also needs transparency. And like everything else, it’s a question of engaging and convincing stakeholders that a well-managed industry, be it mining or hydro-carbons, is in everyone’s best interest.”

“My hope is that in five years all industry members will be convinced of the usefulness of the process and will actively seek it out. I am a strong believer that the only way that things will move forward in our country is if civil society, government and industry – also mining companies – work together to pull us all in the same direction.”

The crucial ingredients: listening and engaging

Asked whether she has found the change of pastures daunting, Veronique takes a second to think. “Not really”, she reflects. “I’ll admit that it was quite a change to once again be living in Mexico City after 13 years abroad. It took some time to realise that the essence of the city is still the same. But I was actually surprised by how easily I have slipped into this new position and how much I enjoy working with different stakeholders. I think it’s because whether you are working with the environment or with transparency and good governance, the fundamental ‘code’ is the same: you have to listen and you have to engage actively.”

Adding new topics

Perhaps this is why Veronique is not surprised that the environment is one of the topics she has seen that other EITI countries have raised in their processes. “Concern for the environment is something that permeates all sectors; it is natural that interested stakeholders raise it, also in an EITI context. In our case we still need to walk before we learn how to run, but everybody is aware that this is a subject that will rise at some point, and we shouldn’t be scared of it. It may not be the time to bring it up in Mexico right now, but when the time comes, we will just have to sit some more people around the table and continue the discussion.”

And a dash of creativity

So where does the French-Mexican-fusion cuisine fit in with all of this? Veronique laughs. “That was a fun little personal project. After ten years at the OECD I decided to try something completely different and managed a restaurant in Paris for three years. Cooking is a hobby of mine, and the Accents d’ailleurs was my attempt at bringing international flavours to traditional French cuisine. I had a great time and it really allowed me to be in touch with my creative side”. She stops for a second before adding with a smile, “I think that creativity is going to come in handy in this new position”.

 

Country Manager Pablo Valverde interviewed Veronique Deli Meadows as part of our series “Faces of transparency.

Read our past profiles on Olena Pavlenko (Ukraine) and Dorina Cinari (Albania).