In light of the escalating Covid-19 pandemic, I would like to express my support for all EITI implementing countries affected by the current circumstances on behalf of the EITI Board.
We recognise that countries around the world are facing a deeply challenging and unpredictable situation caused by the spread of the virus. At the same time, the upheaval in the markets for oil and other commodities will have far reaching consequences for governments which depend on revenues from the extractives sector. In some countries, even small changes in commodity prices can have a material impact on both industry profitability and government revenues. Under current price scenarios, we can expect exploration and the development of new projects to be delayed or cancelled. We can also anticipate closures and restructuring of some existing projects. Companies and their employees and suppliers will be affected. Vulnerable communities who depend on extractives operations will be among those most severely impacted.
It is inevitable that in some countries there will be short-term delays in EITI implementation as governments and stakeholders reassign their time to more pressing priorities. Over the longer term, there may be delays to technical assistance, capacity development, communication, and dissemination activities. The International Secretariat is working closely with national stakeholders to respond and adapt to these challenges.
Restrictions on travel, trade and everyday life caused by the Covid-19 pandemic are being felt around the world. In response to this, the 47th EITI Board meeting in June will be held virtually.
The events are unprecedented, and we will need to be creative and innovative in how we work. One lesson which has been learnt from the current public health situation is the need for transparency. In this time of profound uncertainty, the EITI’s work to promote greater transparency and good governance is as important as ever.
The International Secretariat will continue to support countries to move towards greater transparency and good governance in the extractives sector. Despite commodity price falls, the extractives sector remains an engine for growth in many countries and a source of much-needed funding for countries in handling the current health crisis.
There will be a need to bring stability to the industry after this period of crisis. We see a role for dialogue and collective approaches in this task. We stand ready to work with donors, civil society, supporting companies and countries to consider how EITI multi-stakeholder structures may best serve in the current crisis and its immediate aftermath.
In the interim, we urge all stakeholders to go about their business in a way which safeguards public health, and takes account of the gravity of the situation. Please observe any restrictions on movement in your countries and, above all, remain safe and well.
EITI Board Chair