Highlights from the Paris conference: Day 1

The 5th EITI Global Conference in Paris was launched today with around 900 participants arriving the conference today. Participants included Presidents Otunbayeva (Kyrgyz Republic), Kikwete (Tanzania), and Guebuza (Mozambique), as well as CEOs, ministers and civil society leaders from around the world.

Former EITI Chair, Peter Eigen, set the tone of the day by highlighting the growing attention being focused on transparency and good governance issues in the extractives sector. President Otunbayeva drew parallels between the political uprising in her country last year and Libya to highlight the importance of a building platform for dialogue. Peter Voser, CEO of Shell, emphasised why the EITI is so important for companies: the transparency and debate takes place in the operating countries amongst the citizens of the affected country and involves all operating companies. Mo Ibrahim and Global Witness founder, Simon Taylor, welcomed the complementary of the EITI – with its in-country reporting requirements – and the new US financial reporting requirements which requires all extractive companies listed on US stock markets to report payments made to governments in the countries where they operate. They noted that many tools would be required to address the challenges of good management of natural resources. 

The six new EITI Compliant countries – Central Africa Republic, the Kyrgyz Republic, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, and Yemen – were applauded for their achievements, though it was noted that countries needed to go beyond compliance and embed transparency and accountability to achieve meaningful sustained improvements for their citizens. 

In launching the EITI Progress Report 2009-2011, EITI Board Members acknowledged the spirit of constructive collaboration in the Board working through what appeared to be intractable problems. The discussions highlighted the uniqueness of the experience of each of the 35 implementing countries, and how – as summed up in the EITI Progress Report – the EITI is building trust and dialogue, improving governance, strengthening civil society, and advancing the business climate. The impact of the EITI was further demonstrated at the EITI National Exhibition which hosts stands for all implementing countries where EITI materials, reports, videos, and promotional information are showcased.

The Conference bid an emotional and grateful farewell to outgoing Chair Peter Eigen praising his spirit of tenacity, integrity, vision and enterprise. The success of the EITI and the personality of Peter were considered one and the same thing. New Chair, Clare Short, invited Peter to undertake one final task: to award the EITI Chair's Awards to three outstanding EITI efforts that have worked together in difficult circumstances to achieve the remarkable, and gone beyond the EITI minimum standard: 

  • Mongolia for consistent improvement in reporting;
  • the Central African Republic for rapid implementation; and
  • the Kyrgyz Republic for achievement despite political instability.

The conference continues on Thursday.