The first day of the Berne Board meeting saw tough negotiations on improving the EITI’s quality assurance mechanism.
In May 2013, the EITI took a leap forward when the EITI Standard was approved at the Global Conference in Sydney. This made the EITI more meaningful and useful by increasing transparency around state-owned companies, licenses, production and many other issues. However, building the standard is only part of the job.
Now, two and a half years later the EITI is taking stock and preparing for the next Global Conference that will be held in Lima in February. On the first day of the Berne Board meeting, the Board discussed the need to review how countries’ progress is captured in Validation.
The Board sought to reach agreement on improving the Validation mechanism by which EITI countries’ performance is assessed. Philippines EITI National Coordinator Gay Ordenes said: “We are not trying to water down the Standard but we need to recognise that for some countries meeting the requirements takes time. At the same time, countries are going beyond the Standard to address the issues that are important in their context”.
Dorina Cinari, National Coordinator from Albania, also spoke to the journey that her country had made. She saw great potential in the EITI process to highlight the starting point of each country and the direction of progress in the governance of the extractive sectors. Like her colleague Gay, she had a vision of a process that gives further recognition and incentivises progress in the governance of the sector.
Although the topics under consideration were heavy, one point of consensus around the table during today’s discussion was the importance of the EITI to its various stakeholders. Jim Miller gave the example of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the difference implementation of the EITI had made in the country. He gave credit to the people in the country who through the EITI were working hard and succeeding in improving the governance of the sector.
The Economist reported about the Board meeting on Tuesday, noting that “the EITI has reached a crossroads”. It’s not the first crossroads that the EITI has faced along its way, evolving from a loose set of principles agreed in 2002 into today’s detailed requirements adopted by 48 countries.
Borrowing words from the title of the Economist article, making progress in extractives governance is sometimes about “inching forward”, instead of rushing ahead. To anyone asking “are we there yet?”, the answer is no, but we have come a long way. The Board will continue to discuss on Thursday.