Civil Society Helps Peru Achieve EITI Compliance

Issue: EITI
Country: Peru, Mauritania
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Peru has become the first Latin American country to achieve compliant status in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). A longtime EITI candidate, Peru received the approval of the EITI Board on 15 February, along with Mauritania.

RWI local partner Cooperacción is the civil society representative on Peru's EITI multi-stakeholder committee and has worked hard towards EITI validation. Julia Cuadros, director of Cooperacción, says improved information about oil and mining company payments to the Peruvian government helped Peru achieve compliance.

Peru began implementing EITI in 2005, but the country's first reconciliation report, presented in 2009, did not fulfill the requirements for validation due to insufficient and out-of-date information about company payments. Peru was ruled "Close to Compliant" in December 2010, and given six months to resubmit.

"The quality of the information greatly improved," Cuadros told RWI. "The first report was rather poor and that was one of the main reasons why the international secretariat determined in its previous meeting that Peru didn't meet the requirements."

Indeed, the second reconciliation report, presented in July 2011, covers current information disclosed to the government by 51 oil, gas and mining companies, representing 85 percent of Peru's oil and mining production value. The first report only included 33 companies, or 68 percent of sector production value.

Civil society had a crucial role in improving the quality of the report, through continuous monitoring and advocacy with industry and government. "The changes between the first and second reports that may seem hardly noticeable were in fact decisive," said Cuadros. "There, civil society organizations played an important role by putting pressure and advocating for more and better information."

Civil society also made a significant impact by disseminating information about EITI in a way that was readily accessible for people on the ground.

"One of the main difficulties of the EITI process is that citizens in Peru don't know about it, don't know what's going on and don't feel it's their own," added Cuadros. "As long as they don't know how it can be useful to them, it will not be useful to prevent conflicts and create development, which we think is the final objective."

Being recognized as a compliant country does not mean the work is done, since Peru will have to publish annual, updated reports from now on.

Civil society's role is not complete either. Cooperacción is working to expand Peru-EITI beyond its minimum requirements and its voluntary nature, proposing legislation to make EITI company reporting mandatory and to add regulations to include additional elements, such as corporate social responsibility spending—any direct social spending by mining companies in local areas or communities—which is not currently covered by the initiative.

Until now, the EITI process has been a debate among a restricted group of experts. Achieving compliance can open up a meaningful discussion about transparency to the broader public.

"This is an important first step to place extractive industry transparency on the public agenda," said Cuadros. "We all realize this is a milestone that will give us not only more political relevance, but also more relevance with the public, so they know what EITI is about and how it's useful to them."

And that is ultimately what it's all about.

Claudia Viale is RWI Latin America research associate.

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