Civil society at the forefront of sustainable governance of natural resources

EITI Global Conference: Executive Session 3

Session Summary

This session brought together speakers from government, industry and civil society to discuss the central role of civil society in driving accountable natural resource governance through the EITI and other platforms. The aim was to share good practices of existing participation mechanisms from which the EITI can learn. The session focused on the risks and opportunities that the move towards systematic disclosures presents, and how the EITI could help embed meaningful civil society participation and accountability mechanisms into government and company systems.

Speakers

Moderator: Elisa Peter, Executive Director, Publish What Your Pay (PWYP)

Speakers:

  • Ms Cielo Magno, EITI Board member, Bantay Kita and Assistant Professor, University of the Philippines

  • Mr Luke Balleny, Manager, International Council on Mining and Metal

  • Mr Maksym Nemchynov, State Secretary of the Ministry of Energy and Coal, Ukraine

  • Mr Tonu Basu, Lead, Thematic Engagement, Open Government Partnership

  • Mr Christian Mounzeo, President, Meeting for Peace and Human Rights, Republic of Congo

 

Session Details

The interventions by speakers and panelists highlighted that while civil society is in many cases consulted and asked for feedback on specific matters, there is a case for ensuring that civil society are allowed a role to actively participate in decision making related to the extractive industries. Participants agreed that the EITI should be a platform where civil society are be able to demand and access data, while appropriate attention and importance needs to be given to reflecting broader civil society demands and needs and safeguards its participation.

Background

As the space for civil society is shrinking worldwide, the need to ensure that civil society is able to participate meaningfully in EITI processes becomes more important than ever. Civil society’s call for more transparency of the extractive industries played crucial role in creating the EITI and shaping its standard. The EITI has often been the primary framework used by civil society to engage with governments and companies regarding access to information about the realities of extractive industries in their countries. The multi-stakeholder approach of the EITI has often provided a valuable forum, where civil society can put sensitive issues on the table, and that can inform discussions with reliable data that is acceptable to all stakeholders.

The EITI is encouraging countries to move away from standalone EITI Reports towards fostering systematised disclosures. As government and companies are expected to move towards more regular and timely reporting, the EITI multi-stakeholder groups will continue to have a key role to play in ensuring that the information is made available as required by the EITI and contributes to public debate. There are also existing good practices beyond EITI of participatory governance in the extractive industries that the EITI can learn from to further strengthen civil society engagement.

To create and sustain the responsible governance of natural resources, civil society has to use data in this context in ways that will generate informed public debates that lead to significant reforms in a country. Civil society organisations are well placed to play the role of translator, guide and political advocate when it comes to using data, enabling citizens to make practical use of critical information disclosed through various channels. As systematic disclosure of data by governments and companies becomes more prevalent, civil society needs to be ready to maximise the opportunities and navigate the challenges these developments might bring.

Enabling environment is key for civil society to fulfil its role. EITI has facilitated civic space in some of the most challenging environments. Unfortunately, in many countries civil society faces unfavourable environment, where civic space is shrinking. This makes it even more important that there are systems in place for consultation and participation by civil society in the natural resource governance.

The session will discuss the central role of civil society in driving accountable natural resource governance through the EITI and other platforms and share good practices of existing participation mechanisms from which the EITI can learn. Participants will discuss the opportunities that the move towards systematic disclosures offers to help embed meaningful civil society participation and accountability mechanisms into government and company systems, right alongside the mainstreaming of technical disclosures.