The session built on the preceeding plenary session (Plenary session 3, Disclosure by default). The speakers discussed at length how systematic disclosure of extractive sector data is strongly needed for more timely and relevant data, which is better suited to inform public debate today. But such changes are not without risks. Changes to how EITI opens data and information may also necessitate changes to how the multi stakeholder groups of EITI approach their use of the data. The panellists shared their views and experiences from their separate viewpoints; as government, as company, as civil society, and as implementation support providers.
The panel further discussed how MSGs may, and are, shifting their focus from collecting data and publishing reports to developing guidelines and systems for routine disclosure and verifying that comprehensive data is publicly available. The panel also shared their experiences in how MSGs may consider opportunities to better inform public debate by analyse important trends and exploring the impact of proposals to reform extractive industry governance.
Moderator: Mr Joe Powell, Deputy CEO, Open Government Partnership (OGP)
Mr Serge Hervé Boyogueno, Director of Mines, Industry and Technological Development, Cameroon (on behalf of Hon Gabriel Dodo Ndoke, Minister of Mines, Industry and Technological Development, Cameroon)
Ms Lilia Shushanyan, Deputy Minister Territorial Administration and Development of Armenia
Mr Richard Morgan, Head, Government Relations, Anglo American Plc
Ms Olena Pavlenko, President, DiXi Group, Ukraine
Dr Samuel Bartlett, Technical Director, EITI International Secretariat
The session provided examples of an important transformation which is taking place. In early years of EITI, multi-stakeholder groups (MSGs) collected information from companies and government to publish this data in EITI Reports. Sometimes it took years to collect all the information. As the scope of the EITI expanded it required more details and EITI Reports became time-consuming and expensive. Users welcomed this development but then complained that data was too old and too hard to access; limiting their ability to influence public debate.
EITI implementing countries are embracing a new approach, often called “EITI mainstreaming” or “systematic disclosure”. Governments agencies are embracing open government and open data, so citizens can access up-to-date information. Panellists of the session provided examples of how real-time licensing data can be used for providing citizens with clarity on which extractive companies are allowed to operate where, though online portals " such as the one in Cameroon. There is still some word of caution for some countries where ICT systems may not be as developed, or that the capacity or ability of users to understand the information.
Armenia elaborated on efforts to simplify and improve transaction-data related to extractive operations through e-reporting. This includes a planned online portal on their website for users and the public to access the information in much more timely and regular fashion. These are examples of how countries can improve disclosures through mainstreaming cash-based reporting of extractive sector revenues.
Companies are providing more detailed information in their annual reports and online. A representative from Anglo American, a supporting company of the EITI, described current reporting mechanisms, such as their tax and economic contribution reports, and how this is a good example of systematic disclosure from companies operating in the sector. The main concern for companies is that information is used, as more detailed reporting can be costly. Industry is therefore keen that information does not duplicate other efforts and are fit-for-purpose.
A civil society representative from Ukraine presented how Ukraine are underway in mainstreaming EITI data and disclosures into existing legislation and practices. Ukraine has recently adopted a law with provisions on systematic disclosures, and the country is currently implementing them through an online reporting platform. Other aspects of EITI reporting are covered by other legislation such as auctions for mining or petroleum rights, and the law on beneficial ownership disclosure, which also links to international reporting structures.
The representative stressed the importance of the role of civil society, journalists, think tanks, and researchers in maintaining oversight of large and detailed disclosures of data. However, until disclosures are made in regular intervals, shortly after completion, the information is too old. The speaker concluded by cautioning other interest groups to increase collaboration with civil society; building trust and allowing CSOs to analyse and question extractive sector data.
The EITI International Secretariat also participated on the panel, highlighting the evolution of EITI reporting, up until the 2019 version which was adopted at the conference. EITI Reports are still important tools, but the focus is shifting from collecting information to verifying data quality, analysing important trends, and influencing policy to further improve disclosure practices.
The representative added that this is not just about mainstreaming disclosures, but mainstreaming engagement. If existing mechanisms for MSG engagement exists, EITI shouldn’t be afraid to stand of the shoulders of others. Emphasis was also made that disclosures should not only be valued by how often it is used – it is also the preventative effect and level of accountability that is enabled by regular disclosures being available at any given time. EITI has made almost 400 fiscal years of reporting available in open data format, which is mainly used by companies and investors, in gathering business intelligence.
The moderator, a representative of EITI’s partner organisation Open Government Partnership (OGP), also highlighted how mainstreaming is also crucial at the international level for collaboration and coordination of efforts.
“[...] systematic disclosure or mainstreaming gives global solutions to global challenges [...] Now we collect the bulk of data and create information – user friendly tools that people can relate to [...] this is real-time data for policy making" - Lilia Shushanyan, Deputy Minister of Territorial Administration and Development of Armenia
Responding to the question of what MSGs would do when they have more free time: “Systematic disclosures should not mean that MSGs have more free time, but would do more analysis and be more targeted.” - Lilia Shushanyan, Deputy Minister of Territorial Administration and Development of Armenia
Responding to the question of how to ensure security and integrity of data: “[w]e rely on the government’s security systems which already hold this information and the government is also constantly developing the same information systems’ security.” - Lilia Shushanyan, Deputy Minister of Territorial Administration and Development of Armenia
“Anglo American are fully convinced that transparency needs to be across the board, but we need to ensure that the live and real-time information is useful. […] [systematically disclosing information] means you are trusted, and companies can maintain credibility when submitting complaints on regulations or systems. Mining are such long-term projects that you have to maintain trust across the board in order for your business to be viable.” – Richard Morgan, Head of Government relation, Anglo American
“Mainstreaming from a corporate perspective means that the agenda and the issues are more shared; there is a common understanding of the context. […] mainstreaming means one story that we all agree upon. It is probably more work trying to undertake this, but that doesn’t really matter as we have to get there” – Richard Morgan, Head of Government relation, Anglo American
"Don't be afraid of CSOs in a mainstreamed environment. Use them, and trust them to build bridges to the people." - Olena Pavlenko, Presdient of DiXi Group and MSG deputy Chair, Ukraine EITI
“Strong institutions are built by strong people, remember civil society when building capacity for mainstreaming” - Olena Pavlenko, Presdient of DiXi Group and MSG deputy Chair, Ukraine EITI
“Mainstreaming engagements means we should work together with the other constituencies. First time it creates conflict, second creates negotiation, third we compromise and after enough time it creates trust.” - Olena Pavlenko, Presdient of DiXi Group and MSG deputy Chair, Ukraine EITI
“There is a risk of unfair dealings between civil servants and companies. In a heavy process such as applying for mineral rights, we find electronic processing to be much more transparency and effective.” – Serge Hervé Boyogueno, Director of Mines, Cameroon
“If you’re here in this room: I hope you share the core: working together; this leads to better information which means better decisions.” – Dr Sam Bartlett, EITI International Secretariat
“We're not just talking about mainstreamed disclosure, but also mainstreaming engagement”
- Sam Bartlett, Technical Director, EITI International Secretariat
“We were talking about open data builds trust, but we should also talk about how open data builds markets. The biggest users of EITI data are investors and companies.” - Sam Bartlett, Technical Director, EITI International Secretariat
Responding to the question of what MSGs would do when they have more free time: “If MSG’s had more time, it would be great to see less MSGs focusing on the past, and more MSGs focussing on the future. People don’t want to understand what happened three years ago but how their community and society will look like three years from now” - Sam Bartlett, Technical Director, EITI International Secretariat
#mainstreamed engagement “Looking across interactions and collaboration between EITI and OGP, access to information, open data, and other aspects has to be a conversation across all interested parties and MDAs and companies.” – Joe Powell, Deputy CEO, Open Government Partners