Recognising the profound challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the EITI Board has agreed to amend and extend a range of measures to provide flexibility in EITI implementation first agreed in May 2020. The Board’s hope is that multi-stakeholder groups (MSGs) that have been only moderately impacted will implement the “flexible measures” outlined below, which focus on ensuring that EITI implementation is safely contributing to global and national efforts to respond to the pandemic while upholding the EITI’s commitment to transparency, accountability and multi-stakeholder dialogue. Recognising that this may not be feasible for all MSGs, especially those that have been severely impacted, the Board has agreed an approach on exceptional circumstances.
Through this Board decision, the EITI is extending flexible measures for EITI Reports published in 2021, where disclosure, data collection and dissemination is feasible without posing health risks and subject to MSG endorsement. This is intended to ensure that disclosures are timelier and can help inform current national discussions on measures to address the impact of the interrelated factors of the COVID-19 pandemic, commodity price shifts, and the global economic downturn on the extractive industries. Implementing countries may deviate from the standard procedure for EITI reporting including reconciliation (Requirement 4.9.b) for reports published by 31 December 2021, by disclosing the following information in their reporting.
Information on current extractive and forward-looking sector developments and industry outlook in light of COVID-19 and the commodity price shifts/economic downturns. This information should help facilitate evolving stakeholder efforts to undertake sound national policy decisions and informed public debate on the present shifts unfolding in the sector. Such information could include information on changes in licensing processes and contract negotiations or terms, adjustments to fiscal regimes, incentives or relief requested by or given to companies, effects on exploration or development plans, impact on production, exports and employment (including resulting from movement restrictions and cross-border quarantines), changes in state participation and policies for state-owned enterprises, revisions to revenue and budget projections, shifts in sector-specific borrowing, restrictions on civic space, exceptional uses of sovereign wealth funds, and other issues as agreed by MSGs;
Unilateral disclosures by government and/or companies in accordance with EITI Requirements 2-6 (with the exception of Requirement 4.9.b) . This should include all the information typically included in EITI disclosures in accordance with the MSG’s agreed workplan and in accordance with the 2019 EITI Standard;
Disclosures of the latest production, export and revenue data
A complete overview of the disclosed data (for instance by using the EITI’s summary data template); and
An assessment by the MSG of the comprehensiveness and reliability of the disclosed data, identifying any gaps or weaknesses in disclosures in accordance with the 2019 EITI Standard. Where necessary, the MSG should discuss what additional work is needed to address concerns about the comprehensiveness and reliability of the disclosed data. This could include seeking additional information from reporting entities or undertaking a comprehensive report in line with the EITI Standard for any reporting years that were subject to flexible reporting once circumstances permit.
Flexible reporting will not entail a watering-down or delay of other disclosure requirements, such as Requirement 2.4 on contract transparency.
The decision by the MSG to proceed with this approach to reporting should be clearly documented and shared with the International Secretariat in advance of commencing the reporting process. Validation of the EITI’s disclosure requirements (2-6) will take into account the MSG’s agreed approach and adherence to the provisions above. The Secretariat will document the approaches agreed by MSGs on a continuous basis as part of its monitoring of impact of COVID-19 on implementing countries.
Multi-stakeholder oversight is a central feature of EITI implementation. Under the current circumstances, convening MSGs may be challenging. Where national secretariats and MSG chairs have taken reasonable steps to seek MSG comments and approval, the Board will take this into account when assessing whether the MSG approved key decisions relating to the EITI process. ‘Reasonable steps’ by the MSG chairs could include circulating documents in sufficient time prior to meetings or conference calls, reaching out to MSG members by phone or online, providing sufficient time for MSG members to provide input to draft documents and requesting confirmation from MSG members from each constituency to approve decisions.
Similarly, the Board recognises that EITI communication and dissemination activities must take into account COVID-19 restrictions. The Board encourages MSGs to prioritise online events and capacity-building efforts where possible, and in-person events that can be undertaken safely. Validation of Requirement 7.1 relating to public debate will take into account the constraints associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and reasonable measures agreed by the MSG.
The Board also agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic constitutes an “exceptional circumstance” for all EITI member countries. In accordance with Article 7, section 4 of the EITI Standard, MSG-endorsed reporting extension requests related to reports required by 31 March 2021 submitted by 28 February 2021 will be granted by the Board.
The EITI Board will continue to review this approach and consider whether to amend or extend the measures, taking into account further developments in EITI implementing countries.