A Global Call to Action for the Extractive Industries!

The Open Government Partnership www.opengovpartnership.org was launched in 2011 to provide an international platform and a global call to action to transform the way governments serve their citizens. Natural Resources is one of seven key focus themes of the organisation in recognition of the ‘resource curse’ – the paradox that countries with more natural resources tend to have less economic growth, democracy, and development. In resource-rich countries, corruption in the commodities, oil, gas, and mining sectors results in revenue losses and deprives communities of critical investments in health, education, and infrastructure needed for their well-being. Extractive companies exploiting natural resources through unsustainable practices can also threaten future generations’ claims to the country’s wealth.

On 13th March, Alex Chalke of Grosvenor Clive & Stokes attended an interesting and encouraging session with senior representatives from the UK Government, civil society and the private sector which discussed how they would continue to promote the transparency that was seen as critical in tackling these issues. Increasing transparency in the natural resources sector through the disclosure of revenues, contracts, company ownership, and environmental data will help the public understand the terms under which companies operate, evaluate the true costs and benefits to their communities, and support informed debate on important decisions that affect them. This information can also be used to hold government officials and companies to account by ensuring public funds are spent on community priorities and that environmentally sustainable practices are being followed…..or not!

The UK and 52 other participating countries have achieved good progress in promoting natural resource transparency over the last 15 years, through both reporting under the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and mandatory reporting rules. However, more work is needed to ensure that companies’ wider societal licences to operate are fulfilled and that the mineral and hydrocarbon wealth of nations translates into increasing the well-being of all their citizens.

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