OGP Panel Highlights Benefits of Resource Transparency

With natural resource transparency in the spotlight at the Open Government Partnership annual meeting in Brasilia, Revenue Watch led a summit discussion today on practical ideas for how countries can incorporate oil and mining transparency into their OGP commitments and raise awareness of transparency's impact on other sectors. The panel, with experts from the governments of Indonesia and the U.S., and leaders from EITI and Peruvian civil society, also explored the creation of an OGP natural resource working group.

The global transparency movement is at a critical juncture, following a wave of promising reforms in the past several years. Within the context of OGP, several of the partnership's 55 member countries have already included oil, gas and mining transparency measures in their national commitments. However, many more countries could benefit from making their natural resource sectors open and accountable to the public.

The OGP panel, chaired by RWI President Karin Lissakers, addressed a broad range of governance and sustainability issues. Robert Cekuta of the U.S. Department of the Interior highlighted the United States' commitment to implement EITI as part of its OGP action plan, and the importance of implementing complementary measures like the company reporting requirements in the Dodd Frank Act.

Tara Hidayat, Deputy of Indonesia's Presidential Delivery Unit for Development Monitoring and Oversight, described Indonesia's plans to map all of its natural resource licenses in order to share information about the companies operating natural resource concessions.

Jonas Moberg, Head of the EITI Secretariat, gave an overview of progress made by 35 countries participating in the EITI—and said that OGP offers an opportunity for more countries to join the initiative as part of their national action plans, as Colombia and Ukraine did this week. 

And Elizabeth Vargas of Peru's Grupo Propuesta Ciudadana explained how civil society organizations in her country have used information released by the government to improve accountability, particularly at the local level where resource rents are generated.

The over 40 participants attending the panel expressed interest in an ongoing exchange on natural resources and OGP, possibly through a new OGP affinity group.

The importance of oil, gas and mining governance in the larger open government movement was underscored by speakers throughout the two-day summit. In her remarks Tuesday morning, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cited the critical role of natural resource transparency efforts.

"These initiatives are designed to reduce corruption because we know corruption kills a country's potential. It drains resources. It protects dishonest leaders. It takes away people's drive to improve themselves or their communities," said Clinton. "The cure for corruption is openness, and by belonging to the Open Government Partnership, every country here is sending a message to their own people that we will stand for openness. And we're going to hold ourselves accountable."

Alexandra Gillies is RWI head of governance. Kathryn Joyce is RWI web editor.

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