The 2019 EITI Standard encourages implementing countries to “mainstream” the EITI by encouraging systematic disclosure. It encourages government agencies to embrace open government and open data, so that citizens can access up-to-date information. Companies are also providing more detailed information in their annual reports and online. The focus of EITI implementation is shifting from MSG oversight of EITI Reports, to a wider discussion about leveraging greater transparency to promote evidence-based public policy-making. This session explored the opportunities and challenges associated with mainstreaming EITI implementation.
Moderator: Mr Mark Robinson, Executive Director, EITI International Secretariat
Ms Carolina Sanchez, Secretary of Mining for Argentina
Ms Nargis Nehan, Minister of Mines and Petroleum, Afghanistan (video – provide link)
Mr Richard Adkerson, President and CEO, Freeport-McMoRan
Mr Michel Okoko, Chairman, Executive Committee, EITI Congo
Mr Daniel Kaufmann, President and CEO, Natural Resource Governance Institute
From the perspective of a government that had recently joined the EITI, Carolina Sanchez explained that Argentina had an important future in the extractive sector. She said mainstreaming at the outset of joining EITI provides a great opportunity to continue with the modernisation of her country but pointed out that for its implementation to succeed additional resources will be required.
As head of a long established supporting company, Richard Adkerson emphasised the importance of his company‘s extractives production in Latin America. He stated that his company is entirely supportive of EITI and that they are very open towards cooperation and provision of data. When they share a common objective his company would further like to offer technical expertise to governments.
From the vantage point of an implementing country Michel Okoko, pointed out that as 77% of state resources of the Republic of Congo are derived from resources, EITI is extremely important for his country. He also emphasised that a focus should be on capacity building to ensure that local people and communities are able to actually understand and work with the data which are already available.
Daniel Kaufmann explained that some countries already have well developed systems of data publication in the extractives sector. In others, such as Mexico, Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia, there has been significant progress in recent years. However, challenges remain to be addressed to ensure that the mainstreaming process will not be abused and undermine accountability. Data are often not yet fully open or are sometimes corrupted, raising the question of who would quality-assure the data. Investment in technology must be complemented by capacity building and education. NRGI has developed several websites (resourcedata.org, resourceprojects.org, resourcegovernance.org) in order to make the data easily accessible.
In the early years of the EITI, multi-stakeholder groups focused on collecting information from companies and government agencies and publishing this data in EITI Reports. An EITI report is considered “timely” if it is published within two years. However, it is often hard to access this data. In addition, stakeholders have consistently highlighted the need for more up-to-date information to inform public debate. Extractive industry transparency should not be confined to an EITI Report, but rather become an integral part of how governments manage their extractive sector through mainstreaming or systematic disclosure. Mainstreaming creates fresh opportunities for multi-stakeholder groups to engage in policy data analysis, inform government policy options, and disseminate information to citizens.
EITI mainstreaming is not a new idea. In 2005, the 2nd EITI Global Conference in London called for “regular publication of all material oil, gas and mining payments by companies … and all material revenues received by governments … to a wide audience in a publicly accessible, comprehensive and comprehensible manner” (EITI Criteria, 2005; §1). In 2006, the 3rd EITI Global Conference in Oslo agreed that the EITI “should be light touch and designed with an eye on the ultimate goal for EITI to be ‘mainstreamed’, with its criteria and principles becoming the normal way of working in all the relevant extractive industries within three to five years”. At the EITI Board meeting in February 2018, the EITI Board agreed to set of recommendations to encourage systematic discourse. The EITI Board agreed that “systematic disclosure should be firmly established as the default expectation, with EITI Reports used to address any gaps and concerns about data quality". The 2019 EITI Standard encourages implementing countries to disclose the information required by the EITI Standard through routine government and corporate reporting, and consultation systems such as websites, annual reports etc.