RWI Newsletter - February / March 2012

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Revene Watch Institute

February / March 2012

Question&Answer

Q&A: Suneeta Kaimal, RWI deputy director

In April, representatives from 50+ countries participating in the Open Government Partnership will meet in Brazil to discuss progress in the new global initiative. Deputy Director Suneeta Kaimal represented Revenue Watch at the OGP meeting in Brazil in December.
 

What is the OGP and what is RWI's role?
The Open Government Partnership was launched by eight founding governments at last year's UN General Assembly. This innovative multilateral initiative is based on a commitment to the principles of transparency, accountability and participation. The OGP provides a platform for governments to work with civil society to identify and implement a concrete set of commitments to increase open government.
 

As one of the nine civil society organizations on OGP's steering committee, RWI is committed to supporting the meaningful participation of civil society and ensuring that the partnership develops in a way that benefits citizens. RWI will help civil society identify opportunities to increase transparency in the oil, gas and mining sectors, and make recommendations to their governments. We will provide assistance to governments who are interested to bring greater transparency to the extractive sector and help them understand what actions can be taken.
 

What makes the OGP important?
It's a unique initiative in that it recognizes the important relationship between governments and citizens. Government and civil society together discuss what information needs to be available for citizens.
 

The OGP also provides an advocacy opportunity for civil society—for a variety of sectors and agendas. In the U.S., for example, RWI has long advocated implementation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). It was only when the U.S. signed up for the OGP that the government came to civil society and asked, "What can we do to increase transparency, a step that will be manageable in terms of costs and won't require additional legislation but will have an impact?" That allowed RWI to show what EITI offers. For civil society, such moments are not to be missed.
 

How does this relate to oil, gas and mining?
In most countries, natural resources are owned by the public, and citizens have the right to information about how those resources are used and the revenues they generate. RWI is using our Revenue Watch Index, which scores citizen access to government information in more than 40 countries, to identify countries that have joined OGP and have particular gaps in transparency, and make recommendations for how they can improve.
 

The OGP is much broader than just this one industry sector. But information about revenues from natural resources will help create openings for other transparency "asks." I think OGP is unique in that it's an umbrella, not a zero sum game. The U.S. has made 26 commitments to greater openness, "the alphabet of transparency," which shows that you can sign up to EITI and the International Aid Transparency Initiative, creating a common platform for greater accountability.
 

What other OGP countries made commitments on oil, gas and mining transparency?
Indonesia has committed to mapping concessions related to the extractive industries and to strengthening its EITI implementation. The U.S. commitment to EITI has encouraged other countries to explore the possibility.
 

There is still time for countries rich in oil and minerals to make commitments to greater transparency in the sector. We've produced a reference guide that lays out various commitments that governments can make, from very modest plans to much more comprehensive reforms, from transparency around contracts and sovereign wealth funds to EITI participation and replicating Dodd-Frank-type mandatory disclosure requirements.
 

What about the December OGP meeting in Brazil?
It was an opportunity for countries that joined the OGP during the September launch to hear from the eight founding governments, which announced their actions plans in September 2011, and to learn from their challenges and successes. This was a crucial platform for RWI to present a menu of commitments related to the extractive industries.
 

The December meeting raised a question about the OGP's role with respect to individual member countries.
In advance of the December meeting, the OGP steering committee received two letters—one from civil society and one from an OGP implementing country—expressing concern that South Africa's new "Protection of Information" Act could limit citizens' access to information. South Africa is one of the founding governments and a member of the steering committee.
 

At the meeting, the South African representatives reported on the status of the law, and members of the steering committee—governments and civil society—raised several issues. Civil society wanted the government to continue talk with South African groups about the bill and take their concerns seriously. We felt that, as a steering committee member, South Africa should demonstrate leadership on the principles of transparency and citizen engagement. We also felt such leadership was important for the legitimacy of the OGP in the eyes of other governments and civil society. The steering committee agreed to continue a dialogue with South Africa on the issue. Civil society released a letter expressing our concerns.
 

OGP will have an independent review mechanism to ensure that member countries are adhering to OGP principles and maintaining their eligibility and meeting their commitments. But ultimately, the OGP is meant to be a space for dialogue between civil society and government. The fact that we could bring this issue to attention is one of the OGP's strengths.
 

What happens next?
After the December meeting, new OGP governments were required to submit their work plans for civil society consultation by the end of January. There's a huge opportunity now, in the lead-up to the April meeting where all the new OGP countries will present their action plans, for civil society to engage in the process. It's a crucial window to influence the agenda of OGP countries and make sure that the focus represents the priorities of civil society.
 

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Regions

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Africa

End of Nigeria Fuel Subsidy Sparks General Strike
On 1 January the Nigerian government announced it was ending its longstanding fuel subsidy, which costs the country billions but is among the few benefits citizens reap from the oil industry. Doubled fuel prices led to the largest protest in Nigeria's history and a general strike before the subsidy was partially restored. 

South Sudan Commits to EITI
In December, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir announced the country will implement EITI. Due to disputes with Sudan over transit fees, Kiir moved to shut down oil production in late January while signing an agreement with Kenya to build a pipeline to the Kenyan coast.

Cameroon Reviews EITI Reports
Following questions about the quality of its EITI reports, Cameroon undertook a review of its EITI reports from 2006-2008 in preparation for its validation bid to be reconsidered in February.

Guinea Launches Mining Contract Review
On 20 January, the Guinean government announced a new contract review plan that could help enhance the rule of law, increase investor confidence and improve economic development. The review process follows the National Transitional Council's approval last September of Guinea's new mining code, which included provisions for contract publication and corruption prevention.

Asia Pacific

Philippines Conference on Mining Impacts
On 26-27 January, the Ateneo de Davao University and the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines hosted an international conference on mining operations in the Philippines' Mindanao region and their impact on the environment and human rights. RWI's Andrew Bauer spoke on the "Business and Economics of Mining."

Indonesian NGOs Present Transparency Demands to President
RWI partners Pattiro, POKJA 30 Samarinda and Transparency International Indonesia, along with other anti-corruption advocates, met with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in January to make five demands concerning government anti-graft efforts. The NGOs called for greater law enforcement around natural resource corruption, more openness regarding corruption cases, increased budget efficiency, a streamlined bureaucracy and enhanced anti-corruption policies.

Indonesia Province Hosts Petroleum Fund Workshop
On 30 January, Indonesia's Bojonegoro Institute held a workshop on the Petroleum Fund, a financial stabilization reserve that would set aside some oil, gas and mining revenues for future generations. The workshop, hosted with support from Pattiro and RWI, featured an existing local government initiative to invest petroleum revenues in an equity participation scheme.

 

Eurasia

Eurasia Hub Trains Trainers in Azerbaijan
Eight alumni of the Eurasia Extractive Industries Knowledge Hub met in Baku during  December for a "Training of Trainers" workshop to learn how to teach good governance lessons in their home countries. The participants, from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia, will continue to work with hub trainers to adapt courses on EITI, revenue management and other topics.

 

Strengthening EITI Implementation in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan's EITI civil society coalition met in January with representatives of independent and pro-government youth organizations to discuss ways to strengthen implementation of the initiative and engage youth in the transparency process.

 

Latin America

Ecuadorian Court Ratifies Ruling Against Chevron
On 4 January, the Court of Justice of Sucumbios in Ecuador ratified a multibillion dollar ruling against Chevron Corporation for its role in contamination and damage to Ecuador's Amazon region. The court ordered Chevron to pay $9 billion for damages caused during its 1964-1990 operations.

Sharing Monitoring Experiences at the Local Level
As a part of their work with RWI, Ecuador's Grupo Faro, Mexico's FUNDAR and Brazil's IBASE are building local communities' capacity to monitor environmental and health impacts of large oil and mining projects. In December, the groups shared their experiences with other RWI partners in Bolivia, Colombia and Peru.

Peru Hosts Seminar on Extractive Industries and Development
On 27 January, RWI's local Peruvian partner Societas and the Catholic Pontific University of Peru organized a seminar in Piura on the extractive industries and development as a part of the Latin America Knowledge Hub. RWI's Carlos Monge spoke on the comparative research on territorial management and extractive industries in Latin America.

CSO Network Begins Discussions on Rio+20
The Latin American CSO Network on Extractive Industries will participate in the UN Conference on Sustainable Development Rio+20 in June, introducing oil, gas and mining issues into the broader conversation on sustainable development.

Middle East / North Africa

RWI Hosts Iraq EITI Workshops
RWI held workshops in December and January for members of Iraq's Extractive Industries Transparency Coalition. The first workshop, in Beirut, Lebanon, focused on EITI report analysis. The second, in Erbil, Iraq, was on the Iraq EITI validation process. The coalition produced a draft analysis of Iraq's first EITI reconciliation report and updated their plans to advocate for IEITI reform.

Iraq Publishes First EITI Report
On 20 December, Iraq released its first EITI report. The report compares data from 2009 on crude oil revenues and volumes reported by government officials and foreign companies. Iraq's validation deadline is 9 August, 2012.

Iraqi Provincial Councilmembers to Attend Workshop
In February, RWI will hold a workshop for Iraqi provincial council-members on basic petroleum sector governance and fiscal terms, revenue transparency and management and the role of EITI. Participants will be asked to conduct in-depth needs assessments for their individual provinces to facilitate further targeted training. 

Themes

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Advocacy

Oil Companies Try to Stall Dodd-Frank Implementation
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, charged with implementing Dodd-Frank requirements on oil and mining company payment disclosures, is more than nine months late in releasing its final rules. Some companies are fiercely lobbying for watered-down requirements. RWI calls on the SEC to issue final rules that uphold disaggregated, country-by-country and project-level reporting of all payments made by extractive companies.

RWI's Vanessa Herringshaw Testifies to UK Parliament
On 24 January, Vanessa Herringshaw, RWI's advocacy director, addressed the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Great Lakes Region of Africa in support of the EU's transparency and accounting directives developed by the European Commission. The data these requirements would make public could improve governance in Africa, enabling local communities to track revenues from oil and mining projects undertaken on their land.

Call for Civil Society to Influence OGP Commitments
In April, 43 new governments participating in the Open Government Partnership will formally unveil their National Action Plan (NAP) commitments during an OGP meeting in Brazil. The participants include several resource-rich countries, creating a crucial opportunity for civil society to influence their governments' OGP agendas. RWI has compiled a guide on potential transparency commitments for the oil and mining industries.

Capacity Development

RWI Accepting Applications for Media Training Program
RWI's media capacity building program for reporting on oil, gas and minerals is recruiting candidates for its third class in Ghana and Uganda. The first workshop in this seven-month training will be conducted in Uganda from 14-23 May, in partnership with Kampala-based African Centre for Media Excellence, Accra-based Penplusbytes and the Thomson Reuters Foundation. 

Petrad Fellows Are Trained and Mentored in Petroleum Management
RWI's 2011/2012 Petrad fellows completed the fellowship's eight-week course on petroleum policy and resource management in Stavanger, Norway, and are now working with mentors to apply their knowledge at home. Dr. Samuel Famiyeh is making improvements to the Anglophone Africa Knowledge Hub summer school in Ghana, while Amani Mhinda will support civil society efforts to advise on Tanzania's new gas policy. RWI is now accepting applications for 2012/2013 Petrad Fellows.

RWI Training Alumni Recognized for Reporting
On 13 December, Uganda’s African Centre for Media Excellence awarded prizes to three journalists for outstanding reporting on oil, gas and mining. The two winners of the top print and broadcast media prizes and the overall runner-up are alumni of RWI’s media training program. The award, open to all Ugandan journalists, is sponsored by RWI, which funds a similar award in Ghana.

Ghanaian Reporters Visit Cameroon
Five Ghanaian reporters from RWI's media training program visited Cameroon and met with local journalists in December to gather lessons for covering Ghana's emerging oil and gas sector. The tour gave the reporters an opportunity to learn about the challenges experienced by Cameroon, one of Africa's oldest petroleum producers.

Research

Avoiding the Oil Curse in the Arab World
Antoine Heuty, an RWI deputy director, participated in a conference, "Understanding and Avoiding the Oil Curse in the Arab World," in Kuwait in January. Organized by the Economic Research Forum and the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, the meeting gathered 100 regional and international researchers to discuss the macroeconomic challenges of oil dependency.

Jobs

RWI is accepting applications for the following positions:

The Revenue Watch Institute is a non-profit policy institute and grantmaking organization that promotes the effective, transparent and accountable management of oil, gas and mineral resources for the public good. Through capacity building, technical assistance, research, funding and advocacy, we help countries realize the development benefits of their natural resource wealth.

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RWI Regional Presence: Azerbaijan, Ghana, Indonesia, Peru, United Kingdom