Archive for the 'Natural Resources and Energy Markets' Category

More Transparency Talk within the Environmental Debate

The panel on post-Rio+20 challenges highlighted the reasons why environmental degradation should be seeing as a sign of corruption.

As the negotiations in Doha, Qatar, unfold during the 18th UN Conference on Climate Change many of the issues that were discussed at the recent 15IACC have came to my mind. It was
a month ago that I had the pleasure to moderate the panel about sustainable development and transparency at the meeting in Brasilia.

At that opportunity, some of the panelists expressed optimism on multilateral efforts among countries to address urgent planetary problems. Others, nonetheless, have pointed that we are running late to save humanity, and corruption is part of the fail.

The participants were the ministry of Environment of Brazil, Izabella Teixeira, the acting president of the World Resources Institute (WRI), Manish Bapna, the director of World Vision International, Beris Gwyne, and the executive director of Greenpeace, Kumi Naido. The secretary of UNEP, Achim Steiner, has sent a video message.

Manish Bapna, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of the World Resources Institute

I ask them to give us an overview on their expectations after the agreement reached at the Rio+20 summit, in June this year. Minister Izabella was the optimist: she mentioned the start of a new moment, a new process to set the Sustainable Development Goals. But Kumi explained why he sees the agreement as the “longest suicidal note” in history. For him, governments are ceding to lobby of powerful sectors of economy, delaying action.

I thought that Manish Bapna brought new insights by mentioning that access to information can revolutionize the transparency movement. The reporter Jessica Weiss, one of the fellows of the young journalists grant, has wrote a nice piece on the ideas presented by the president of the WRI, see here

It was somehow surprising to me at the beginning to listen Steiner saying that it was not more laws, frameworks or conventions that we are lacking, but enforcement. Sounds obvious, but I like his examples on the necessity of giving governments technical capacity to be transparent, by equipping laboratories, environmental institutes and so on.

Beris Gwynne, from World Vision International, came with a broader issue to be discussed: the power itself of influencing decisions. Has the power really shifted hands with all the instruments and means of civil society participation, she asked?

I think the Kyoto Protocol, which the first period finishes this year, is a good example. Right now, while I sit in my office in rainy São Paulo the treaty is being discussed at the dry Arabian Peninsula. What this piece of international law represents on my life is difficult to know at the present. But, if the climate scenarios are confirmed, its failure could one day be felt by all in the future. When this moment arrives, will society look back and see the environmental degradation as a sign of corruption?

Gustavo Faleiros, Knight International Fellow

By Gustavo Faleiros. Gustavo is a Brazilian journalist, Knight International Fellow. He moderated the panel Rio+20: can we live in a corruption free World? at the 15th IACC

Interview: Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director Greenpeace International

Greenpeace Executive Director Kumi Naidoo arrived yesterday to the 15th International Anti-corruption Conference. After discussing what we should commit to Post RIO+20, the South African human rights activist gave us a three minute interview about Greenpeace’s work on anti-corruption, their latest international campaigns, and what he really expects from COP18 in Doha, Qatar.

Produced by Andrea Arzaba

Follow the Money: Tracking and Sharing Resource Wealth

The erosion of the middle class became a central focus of the 2012 United States presidential election, after Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s comments about the “47 percent”. Nowhere is the strain of the economic and social classes more apparent than in the world’s chronically underdeveloped, but resource-rich nations, where much of the money made from the oil, gas and mining industries very often goes missing–both from mismanagement and corruption.

On the first day of the 15th IACC, the panel on Mobilizing People: Connecting Agents of Change in the Oil and Mining Sectors tackled the latest, greatest effort to track the funds flying into what has previously been, the financial black hole of the extractives industries across the developing world.

Extractives Industry Transparency Initiatives

The bulk of the discussion explored the role of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiatives (EITI), a relatively new global standard that aims to ensure the transparency of payments from natural resources at the local, state and national levels, to the 3.5 billion citizens across the globe that live in resource-rich countries, but are not seeing financial rewards from extraction of their natural resources.

“EITI is based on two core parts—transparency of the core process, reconciliation of what government says it’s received and companies say they paid,” Jonas Moberg, Head of the International Secretariat of EITI, said during the panel discussion. “It’s all compiled in an EITI report by a contracted accounting firm like Deloitte, then government invites civil society and companies to agree on the payments that should be covered and then the government has to use the information,” he said.

Anti-corruption crusaders favor EITI because they provide extensive evidence of the inward and outward flow of funds —a factual framework that naturally supports the legal framework many EITI implementers, like Norway, Peru, Mongolia and Mozambique, have already established. And while EITI are still relatively new, the panelists insist that the effects are groundbreaking–but not without limitations.

“The audit reports have formed a basis, a catalyst for public discussions and debates,” Zainab Ahmed, Executive Secretary of Nigeria’s EITI, said. “The legislature has used it for public forums, civil society has used it for debates. The people are protesting and talking and agitating more than they ever have before. But while NEITI can claim that because of its work, the Nigerian oil and gas sector is no longer a black hole, we can’t claim that there is accountability,” she said.

Zainab Ahmed

"People are protesting, people are agitating, those things weren't done before. At some point, the government will be forced--they won't have an option anymore-- to be transparent." Zainab Ahmed, Executive Secretary, NEITI

Communication Gaps

Interestingly, each of the panelists highlighted the same cause for the lag between the implementation of EITI and the public’s perception of the government’s accountability efforts in their own countries; and the audience agreed.

“There is a communication gap between the release of the reports and their communication to the community,” Emmanuel Sanyi, an anti-corruption crusader from Cameroon, said. “Especially the communities from which these resources are extracted—the communities that could use the information in the reports to inform their advocacy and agitation,” he said.

Indeed, communication of EITI report findings to the general public has proven to be a challenge for early EITI implementers all around the world, from West Africa to Mexico.

“Today…governments have to very quickly decide what’s relevant to the community and civil society needs to figure out how to join and dialogue with civil society,” Transparency Mexico President Eduardo Bohorquez, said.

Eduardo Bohorquez

Eduardo Bohorquez, Director, Transparency Mexico

EITIs: Not Just a Northern Notion

In the end, international transparency pioneer Peter Eigen reflected on the transparency initiative and addressed what he called, “the concern that EITI is just another northern (hemispheric) concept being shopped to the south.”

“It’s a global concept, Eigen said. “We dreamt up this ‘publish what you pay’ initiative driven by civil society, and we ran into difficulties… but [former Nigerian President] Obasanjo broke the ice and announced in 2003 in Berlin that in Nigeria not only would it be used, they would make it mandatory and they would publish what they found. Therefore it is not an organization born and conceived only in the north. It was really driven by a global civil society movement driven by the host countries,” he said.

 

 

Rio shows way on links between environment and corruption

The inter-governmental deal on climate change inked in Rio de Janeiro in June has proved nothing less than the “longest suicide note in history”, according to Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace International’s executive director. He sees the successor compact to the original landmark 1992 Rio declaration on climate change as a crucial and perhaps fatal missed opportunity to tackle a problem that links the worlds of environmentalism, economics and graft.
“On many of the critical [areas] we have actually gone back,” Mr Naidoo said, lamenting the “corruption and the absence of transparent governance” that continue to enable the over-exploitation of fossil fuels. “When we look at the reality, time is running out.”
Twenty years after the original Rio agreement, the links between the degradation of the planet and the problem of international corruption have become increasingly clear. From illegal pollution in poorly regulated countries to illicit carbon trading dealings in western financial markets, the growing international focus on the environment has revealed many disturbing examples of poor governance and even outright fraud.
> Read full story

A new generation of anti-corruption efforts

Big change doesn’t always make global headlines.

Just ask Paul Hilder, the Vice President of Global Campaigns at online petition site Change.org. He sees ordinary citizens fight for extraordinary change every day – largely under the mainstream radar. At the opening plenary of the 15 IACC, Hilder shared one such story, of a young man from Bihar, India, whose tale unfolded when he went to get a driver’s license last year.

Paul Hilder (center) speaks at the opening plenary of the 15 IACC. To his left is Sanjay Pradhan, Vice President of the World Bank Institute; to his right is Daniel Kauffan, President of Revenue Watch. Photo credit: Virginie Nguyen Hoang

When the young man, a student, entered the public office, officials demanded a bribe. The man refused and was beaten. Unbeknownst to officials, the young man had recorded the incident on his phone. He shared it with a friend who started a campaign on change.org. Within days, 440 people had signed the petition. Because of the buzz, a collector disciplined the official and reforms were put in place. > Read full story

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