Validation Committee teleconference, 20 May 2020
Validation Committee teleconferece, Wednesday 20 May, 14:00-15:30 CEST
- Welcome and adoption of the agenda
- Draft minutes (for decision)
- Options for determining the consequences of third Validations (for decision)
- Third Validation of São Tomé and Príncipe (for decision)
- Second Validation of Madagascar (for decision)
- Second Validation of Tanzania (for decision)
Attendance: Awa Marie Coll Seck, Agnés Solange Ondigui Owona, Sonia Le Bris, Timo Voipio, Stephen Douglas, Carlos Aranda, Cesar Gamboa, Mariya Lobacheva, Cielo Magno, Brice Mackosso, Simon Taylor.
Observers: Clémence Contensou (Government of France), Rafael Giménez (Repsol).
From the International Secretariat: Sam Bartlett, Murjana Gamawa, Indra Thévoz, Olesia Tolochko, Mark Robinson, Alex Gordy, Lyydia Kilpi, Ines Schjolberg Marques, Edwin Warden, Fatma Nyanbura.
1. Confirmation of agenda, including observers and recusal.
It was noted that the meeting was quorate. There were no objections to the proposed agenda.
2. Draft minutes (for decision)
Committee members approved the draft minutes of the 6 May teleconference.
Solange expressed concerned over the need for equal treatment of implementing countries. She called for the International Secretariat to inform all countries of the Board’s flexibility on Validation extension requests in 2020. Alex Gordy confirmed that this would be done for all implementing countries following the Board’s decision on 27 May, subsequent to Board Circular 290.
- The International Secretariat to publish the minutes of the 6 May 2020 teleconference on the internal Committee site.
3. Options for determining the consequences of third Validations (for decision)
Committee chair Sonia LeBris introduced the paper with options for the Validation Committee’s consideration on determining the consequences of not reaching overall “satisfactory progress” in a third Validation. She noted that Ghana, Mauritania and São Tomé and Príncipe (STP) were currently undergoing their third Validations.
Lyydia Kilpi introduced VC Paper 23-2, noting that the current Validation process suggested that any country that failed to reach overall “satisfactory progress” by its third Validation was temporarily suspended. There were three options for the Committee’s consideration. The first option was to suspend any country that does not achieve overall “satisfactory progress” in its third Validation.
The second option was for the Board to agree that it will only suspend countries that reach overall “meaningful progress”, if the third Validation does not demonstrate considerable improvements in implementation. The third option was for the Board to agree that no country reaching overall “meaningful progress” in its third Validation be suspended. The exception would be cases where progress in meeting stakeholder engagement requirements (1.1 to 1.3) was assessed as below “meaningful progress”.
Awa Marie Coll-Seck highlighted that suspension of a country always had adverse consequences, whether economic or political. She noted that Validations would be broadly postponed, she called for the Committee to ensure maximum flexibility in being selective when applying suspension. She expressed support for Options 2 and 3, noting the need for Board support in cases of progress in addressing requirements.
Agnes Solange Ondigui Owona noted the timeliness of the discussion of consequences given that a growing number of countries were starting their third Validations just as the Board had started revising the Validation model. She questioned the logic of completing Validations that could lead to suspension the new Validation model could change the criteria for suspension. In the spirit of equal treatments, she supported Option 3. She asked for clarity on timeframes for a new Validation model.
Cielo Magno expressed support for Option 2, which she considered more consistent with the evolving direction of the Validation review which sought to reward countries making continuous progress. While the Validation review working group was planning on Board approval the new model in October, countries should continue work in the meantime.
Brice Mackosso expressed support for Option 3 to ensure equal treatment for all countries, since the criteria for suspension may change in future. He called for enhanced implementation support during the crisis. He noted that countries like Madagascar had many outstanding corrective actions after their second Validations, questioning whether 18 months was enough for implementing countries before third Validations. Brice called for more collaboration between the EITI and IMF during the Covid-19 crisis to support countries focused on addressing their fiscal crises.
Stephen Douglas noted that option 1 did not treat countries equally, while Option 2 would require making subjective judgements. Option 3 essentially stopped the clock until Validation reform is approved or the pandemic over. Stephen suggested Option 3, replacing the reference to Covid-19 stabilising with a clear reference to October 2020.
Carlos Aranda noted the different impacts of Covid-19 on countries and the different outlooks for situations stabilising in different countries. Carlos supported Stephen’s suggestion to remove reference to the stabilisation of Covid-19 from Option 3. .
Simon Taylor expressed concern that Option 3 would mean using the Covid-19 crisis as the reason for suspending the basis of an organisation, in this case suspension. Countries had known for a long time that suspension was a possible outcome of third Validations. He called for Board discretion in reviewing why progress was not taking place, in Option 2.
Lyydia noted support for Options 2 and 3. The Secrteariat could propose a compromise between Options 2 and 3 for the Committee’s consideration at the next call on 27 May. This would highlight the Board’s discretion to suspend countries after third Validations, based both on progress on individual requirements as well as on overall implementations and innovations.
Brice noted that postponing suspension until a new Validation model was implemented did not imply that countries should stop working and called for the International Secretariat to redouble implementation support efforts. Lyydia noted the Implementation Committee’s recommendation to the Board on flexible and forward-looking reporting, under which the Secretariat was working closely with countries to ensure continued disclosures this year.
Solange asked for an update on the Validation outlook and the prospective EITI candidature applications in 2020. Alex noted that Committee members would be provided with an updated version of the Committee’s 2020 work plan ahead of the next teleconference. Members were reminded of the Covid-19 tracker google document circulated by Board Circular, the EITI Outreach Strategy for 2020 and the upcoming February-May 2020 Implementation Progress Report ahead of the Board’s June meeting.
The Committee mandated the Secretariat to revise the options for consideration at its next teleconference. Committee members were invited to submit any additional comments in writing by the end of the week.
- The International Secretariat to submit an updated set of options in VC Paper 23-2 for consideration at the Committee’s 27 May teleconference.
4. Third Validation of São Tomé and Príncipe (for decision)
The Committee deferred this item to its 27 May teleconference.
- The Validation Committee to consider VC Paper 23-3 on the third Validation of São Tomé and Príncipe at its 27 May teleconference.
5. Second Validation of Madagascar (for decision)
Sonia introduced the recommendation.
Indra Thévoz introduced VC Paper 23-4, noting that the government and the MSG had made progress on systematic disclosures by government entities since the first Validation. Stakeholder engagement had improved and Validation highlighted that the EITI remained highly relevant and opportunities to improve reporting around environmental- and gender-related issues.
Subject to the Committee’s consideration of new information published after the start of Validation, the Secretariat’s assessment was that seven of the fifteen corrective actions were fully addressed by Madagascar. The new information relates to Requirements 4.9 on data quality and 6.2 on quasi-fiscal expenditures. The Secretariat’s view is that this new information meets the criteria defined in the Validation procedure for the Board to take it into account. The outstanding corrective measures related to government engagement, civil society engagement and MSG oversight, as well as on disclosures related to license allocations, contract disclosure, state participation, data disaggregation and subnational transfers.
Lead reviewer Cielo Magno agreed with the recommendation. On government engagement, she called for greater concern on the selection process for the interim national coordinator in the proposed Board statement. On civil society engagement, she called for more emphasis in the Board statement on the need to improve civil society constituency coordination, given that this was already concern at the first Validation. In relation to the outcomes and impact section of the report, Cielo called for the development of different metrics for assessing outcomes and impacts of implementation in future.
Solange noted that Madagascar’s EITI implementation was symptomatic of most African countries, where encouraging interest from government and engagement from civil society could be challenging. Overall however, this was a good result since half of the corrective actions had been addressed. She expressed support for the recommendation, and called for more implementation support.
Carlos asked why transportation payments were assessed as both not applicable and “beyond”. Indra clarified that there were no government revenues from transportation but that EITI reporting had extensively covered private-sector transport arrangements, of high interest to host communities.
Indra explained that recruitment of a permanent national coordinator was near completion and had been open and transparent. She noted the encouragement for the MSG to ensure that the broader government and civil society constituencies participate actively in all aspects of implementation in the proposed Board statement. The Secretariat was working with international civil society organisation such as WWF and IUCN, who had local offices, to improve civil society engagement in EITI. On measuring impact, Indra noted that the report tried to highlight some of the Validation assessment’s limitations in the EITI’s impact to date, despite encouraging impacts particularly related to subnational transfers, of high demand from local communities.
Brice noted the seven outstanding corrective actions and questioned whether 18 months was sufficient to address them to avoid suspension. He called for more implementation support from the International Secretariat. He expressed surprise at the onus being placed on civil society to raise funding in the recommendations.
Indra noted that civil society organisations had gaps not only technical but also financial capacity. The Secretariat had reinforced its implementation support during the Covid-19 crisis, supporting more remote working.
The Validation Committee agreed the recommendation to the Board in VC Paper 23-4 that Madagascar has made “meaningful progress with considerable improvements” overall in implementing the 2016 EITI Standard, with 18 months before a third Validation. The Committee agreed to submit the recommendation to the Board for decision via circular.
- The Validation Committee to submit the recommendation on the second Validation of Madagascar to the Board for decision via circular.
6. Second Validation of Tanzania (for decision)
The Committee deferred this item to its 27 May teleconference.
- The Validation Committee to consider VC Paper 23-5 on the second Validation of Tanzania at its 27 May teleconference.
There was no other business.