Oil, gas, and minerals are the lifeblood of the global economy. A complex web of transactions, from exploration, to processing, to final use, connects the most remote communities with centers of industry and technological innovation. Yet the wealth generated from these natural resources often accrues to the few who control the levers of power in resource-rich countries. In a phenomenon called the “resource curse,” natural capital crowds out other economic sectors, sharpening social cleavages and degrading the environment instead of contributing to sustainable development. While many factors are at play, the combination of vast sums of money and weak governance presents fertile ground for corruption. Lack of transparency is a critical problem for citizens and advocacy groups who want to understand how much revenue is generated and how taxes and royalties are being invested on behalf of the country.
The global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) was established in the early 2000s to promote high standards of accountability in the extractive industry, making transparency about the money that companies are paying to governments a global norm. In recent years, the number of countries committed to implementation has grown to 51, with member states spanning every continent, and the EITI Standard has become more exacting. As EITI ratchets up its level of ambition, the national EITI implementing structures have taken on more responsibility to translate the requirements of the EITI’s global Standard into their national contexts.
While member state contexts vary enormously, some common challenges emerge in EITI implementation. To ensure the initiative continues to advance with wide support, the International EITI Board, the apex governing body, must grapple with these challenges. Each stakeholder group thus needs to find effective and inclusive ways to mobilize its many members and channel their varied concerns and ideas to the EITI Board. Implementing countries are geographically dispersed and differ across extractive industry profile, language, and culture, making coordination difficult.
In December 2015, the EITI reached out to CBI to help strengthen coordination among the government representatives leading their respective national EITI processes. With financial support from the U.S. government in 2016 and the World Bank in 2017, CBI has worked to improve collaboration and information-sharing. The ultimate objective is for implementing countries to consistently help the EITI Board calibrate its policy-setting and oversight activities to meet their diverse needs.
The effort involves helping a loose network of government officials self-organize into a working coalition that, while not beholden to consensus rules, can effectively articulate a range of interests and proposals on priority issues of common concern to the Board and each other. It also seeks to leverage members’ vast experiences for mutual benefit by encouraging peer exchange. Key milestones resulting from this effort include:
The long-term objective is to instill protocols and practices, supported by appropriate communications tools, that link EITI implementing countries and strengthen their voice in, and ownership of, EITI. To date, CBI’s support has generated a clear framework for self-governance of implementing countries; joint recommendations from national EITI stakeholders to the EITI Board on key issues; training that enhanced facilitation capacity for national coordinators and other senior government officials; and the opportunity to utilize a tailored data portal for information and connection across implementing countries.