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In Brief

- The 10th PWYP Eurasia meeting took place, alongside a two-day technical training by NRGI. To find out more, read this blog by PWYP Global Steering Committee member Olena Pavlenko.

- Global Witness analysed two recent Production Sharing Agreements signed by the Ugandan government over the extraction of its oil.  While the deal was better financially than previous ones, it lacks safeguards to protect human and environmental rights. But why take our word for it? You can find out more by exploring Global Witness’ infographic and reading their report.  PWYP Uganda’s coordinator, Winne Ngaarbirwe, had this to say about the conracts:

“ I am concerned that human rights aspects of environmental protection, and mechanisms for handling grievances raised by affected communities, are not catered for. A transparent and accountable natural regime must be grounded in human rights principles and practice. We also  need to know which companies have been given licenses, what they have been given licenses for and where. The oil, gas and mining sector should be transparent at all levels of the value chain.”

This photo by Jon S is available on Flickr under a Creative Commons License

DRC - Using community radios to create a debate

One of the cornerstones of EITI is that it should contribute to a national debate about natural resource management.  A national dialogue, the theory goes, should promote the development of better policies. In many countries, EITI is a crucial source of information and data about the extractive sector, revealing how much companies have paid to the government and how much the government received. It is essential that the information generated by the initiative be disseminated as widely as possible; it is only when citizens are informed that they can demand change.

In a country the size of Western Europe and where more than 240 languages are spoken, fostering a debate isn’t all that easy. Add to that the challenges of low internet penetration and low literacy rates, and the PWYP-DRC coalition has its work cut out for it.

Local communities in Bas-Congo, an oil-rich region, suffer from the negative impact of extraction (displacement, environmental effects) without benefiting from the extractive revenues generated by the projects. “There is currently no mechanism for local communities to engage in the debate over how extractive revenues are spent” explained Jean-Claude Katende, PWYP DRC Coordinator “Moreover, they are not even aware of the EITI, one of the only instruments through which they can participate in the discussion”.

PWYP DRC has been training the network of community radios in Bas-Congo (REMACOB) in order to change the status quo. Community Radios play an important role in DRC as a means of sharing important information. Their potential to play a role in facilitating a discussion on EITI is high.

In late September PWYP DRC held a workshop with 12 community radio stations. They taught participants about EITI and the importance of extractives and showed them on how to obtain accurate information about the sector.

As well as producing shows about EITI and the extractive sector, the community radios will be seeking opinion and reactions from community members in their programmes. One of the participating journalists Pascaline Tshimbuka, said that, “This workshop has been transformative to me and has changed my vision as a journalist. Before, I didn’t know much about EITI and I couldn’t even imagine that this question was so important to our communities”.

For more on the workshop (in French only) visit our site.

“Transparency is now expected, not merely requested” – 10 years of PWYP USA

By PWYP USA’s David Garcia

In the 10 years since PWYP-US was founded, tremendous progress has been made in the United States toward making financial flows in the extractives sector more transparent. In 2010, Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act was signed into law, requiring oil, gas, and mining companies listed on a U.S. stock exchange to publish the payments they make to governments for access to natural resources. Two years later, the Securities and Exchange Commission released strong implementing regulations for 1504, requiring public, project-level disclosures with no country exemptions. Today, 30 countries have adopted or pledged to adopt transparency legislation modeled on Section 1504 and the 2012 rule, including the European Union’s 28 member states, Canada, and Norway.

Indeed, in his keynote address at the PWYP-US  10-year anniversary reception, Senator Lugar gave nod to the quickly-emerging global transparency standard, remarking that “transparency is now expected, not merely requested…it is rightly seen as fundamental to good governance.”

While there was much for the PWYP-US coalition to celebrate, the Capitol Hill reception also provided an opportunity to remind coalition members and allies of the work that remains to be done. A District Court decision in 2013 narrowly vacated Section 1504’s implementing rule, requiring the SEC to do a re-write before the transparency provision can go into effect. Already considerably in breach of its legal deadline to write a new rule, the PWYP-US coalition and its allies will continue to work to ensure that the SEC acts without additional delay, and ultimately writes a rule as strong as that released in 2012.

In addressing the PWYP-US coalition and its supporters, Senator Lugar declared the war already won for transparency in the extractives sector.  Going forward, as PWYP-US National Coordinator Jana Morgan remarked, “the focus must be on building on the last decade’s successes, and ensuring that those who prefer to do business in darkness do not succeed in rolling back 10 years of progress.”

Read the full blog on our website.

How to give communities a platform? PWYP Zimbabwe and the alternative indaba

Below is an extract from an article by PWYP Zimbabwe about what they gained from the Alternative Mining Indaba and what happens next. Please visit our site to read the full article.

The ZAMI is an annual event that is part of the continental movement sparked off at the Alternative Mining Indaba in Cape Town, South Africa to create an alternative platform for mining affected communities to discuss mining impacts and engage with stakeholders such as government and mining companies on their own terms. The event is a result of the realisation that communities in mining areas often have very limited public platforms within which to influence public policy and decision making processes related to mineral resource exploitation.

The theme on fighting corruption to promote transparency and accountability resonated with the Publish What You Pay Vision and its ‘Chain for Change’ whose pillars call on mining companies and government to; ‘Publish Why You Pay’, ‘Publish What You Pay’ and ‘Publish What You Earn and How You Spend’. These pillars are all anchored on the need to ensure that all processes related to mining are open to public scrutiny and public participation.

PWYP Zimbabwe organised and facilitated a panel session on ‘promoting transparency and accountability in the mining sector’. The panel featured presentations on illicit financial flows, the ActionAid’s Tax Justice Campaign, research on fiscal transparency in Zimbabwe’s mining sector, corruption in the mining sector and the PWYP Campaign.

In addition to the hosts, the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA), PWYP Zimbabwe members that attended the meeting included; the Chiadzwa Community Development Trust; Transparency International Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development and the Centre for Natural Resources Governance. The PWYP East and Southern Africa Coordinator, Carol Kiangura, also attended the meeting and spoke on the Publish What You Pay Vision 2020.

Please visit our site to read the full article.

Why Malawi needs transparency

From the Albertine basin in Uganda to Mozambique’s gas windfall, countries in East & Southern Africa have been experiencing a flurry of extractive discoveries. Malawi hasn’t been left out, with an oil discovery under Lake Malawi and not insignificant deposits of uranium. With the majority of Malawi’s citizens living below the poverty line, discoveries such as these could be transformational for the country.

However, Malawi’s natural resources will only prove a boost if the revenues from mining are used responsibly and invested wisely. It is also tempting at moments like these for governments to rush in, issuing licenses left right and centre, in order to start profiting from these riches below the ground as soon as possible.

But these riches aren’t free; they come at a cost. Whether that cost is in the loss of agricultural land – which is already becoming scarce in Malawi – or as a cost to the environment, mining doesn’t come cheap. Decisions over whether and how to extract need to be made in a deliberate manner that takes into account the views of companies. Rushing in with companies can result in less than optimal deals which mean that Malawi’s citizens, and future generations, could lose out.  Kaulungu Simwaka from Citizens for Justice explained that the Malawi government has issued dozens of contracts and license to foreign companies, but these agreements have remained secret. How can citizens be sure that their government has obtained a good deal? Mining companies have already made profits from Malawi’s natural resources, but these haven’t necessarily translated into benefits for communities.

It is for these reasons that civil society in Malawi is joining forces to form a PWYP coalition. A group of organisations met in early September in Lilongwe to debate the justification for forming a coalition, and what their objectives should be.

Civil society wants extraction the country to be carried out in a deliberate and measured way, with transparency and accountability present at each step. Revenue payments must be published so that civil society can follow the money – one of the coalition’s key goals will be to push for the implementation of EITI. The organisations are currently preparing their application to join PWYP as a coalition. A PWYP campaign would also call for extractive companies to publish their CSR commitments and call on the government to publish all extractive contracts.

“The campaign will prioritise its activities to ensure maximum revenue collection by the Government” said Mr. Simwaka, “as well as advocate for an appropriate budgetary allocation and utilisation of the extractive revenues to serve the development aspirations of Malawians.”

Mr. Simwaka explained how Malawi’s civil society could benefit from the lessons learned and experiences gained by other PWYP national coalitions and the network as a whole. Being part of a global coalition could also help them amplify their voices to a larger platform and access capacity building and fundraising opportunities.

“Over all” he concluded, “a PWYP Malawi campaign would aim to prevent a political elite from corruptly amassing wealth from the mining boom at the expense of the nation. Instead, revenues from the extractive sector will be invested into national development to the benefit of all Malawians”.

Thanks for Kaulungu Simwaka for his contribution to this article!

Read the blog online.