Sharing this press release from DAR on the newly adopted Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative standards. You can read more about this initiative and DAR at the link below.
The new standard will be gradually implemented. To do so, many EITI countries will have to gather and systematize scattered information among different organizations in an accessible format; processing it in a way that is easy to understand and use.
It promotes the publication of the results of environmental impact monitoring, including the environmental agencies’ observations to these reports.
Non-disclosure clauses are to be removed gradually from contracts in order to make agreements more transparent, and a gender approach will also be adopted in the initiative.
The EITI Global Standard is followed by 52 countries, which will have to adopt these changes starting next year. Argentina is the last country incorporated in the initiative.
Kiev, February 28th, 2019 – Three years after civil society organizations from Latin America, the Caribbean and other regions of the world’s proposed to incorporate environmental information in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI); this effort has bore its first fruits. On February 27th, during the EITI Global Council Board Meeting, a new standard was approved establishing the obligation to publish environmental information such as environmental fees required by either law, national regulations or contract agreements .
Additionally, the Standard encourages countries to create mechanisms which allow the disclosure of social and environmental expenses and transfers of discretionary nature. It also invites to circulate information regarding environmental legislation applied to the extractive industry; management and follow-up of their environmental impacts and monitoring including government administrative and sanctioning processes, environmental liabilities, recovery and remediation programs; among others.
The aim is to raise confidence between the citizenry and the extractive industries - in a context where socio-environmental conflict goes hand in hand with limited access to information - and foster a real participation in decision-making. It is also important to mention that EITI is a multi-actor space. This new standard is likewise the product of governments, companies, civil society and donors’ consensus building and commitment, as well the Technical Secretary’s effort in its role supporting the discussions.
THE ROLE OF CIVIL SOCIETY
When they said the EITI wasn’t related to the protection of the environment, civil society stood at the front of the debate with proposals and demonstrated the opportunities of this approach. Currently, at least 28 countries (from EITI’s 52 members) already report this information. This and other arguments were brought to the table by nearly 150 civil society and indigenous organizations in a letter addressed to the EITI Global Council, the same which, -in words of Ana Carolina González, Latin America and Caribbean’s civil society representative in the EITI Global Council – was fundamental and evidenced how crucial was the Board’s decision to the eyes of the region.
Derecho, Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (DAR) has been promoting the EITI in Peru since 2013 as a civil society alternate member in the EITI National Commission of Peru (currently a full member). In 2016, DAR was elected as an alternate member to the EITI’s Global Council. Alongside other regional organizations we undertook the commitment to promote environmental governance in this Initiative. This breakthrough has been an accomplishment that calls us to further contribute to a sustainable use of our natural resources.
“EITI will not only be about taxes anymore, we achieved the incorporation of the word environment in the initiative”
To look into this issue, we had a conversation with Ana Carolina González, Latin America and Caribbean’s civil society representative at the EITI Global Council.
When does the new EITI Standard come into effect?
The new Standard will be presented officially in June, during the Global Conference to be held in Paris. From then on, the countries will discuss the time they need to adapt their mechanisms to access environmental information, digitalize information and making it available in user-friendly repositories, arranged in a single place and easy to track. This may not seem as much, but it is very important for the communities involved. Let’s remember that increasing environmental transparency doesn’t necessarily mean adding an extra thousand pages to the environmental impact assessment. It is about ensuring people’s capacity to make better choices. In some cases, this implies regulatory changes, particularly getting rid of non-disclosure clauses in contracts.
What does it mean the inclusion of socio-environmental information for the EITI?
What’s most valuable is that EITI has been understood as a transparency initiative limited to terms of profits and taxes. With the inclusion of environmental issues, I think we are catching up with a task pending from several years ago: Becoming the Transparency Initiative for the whole extractive sector, not limited to profits, gives us a wider perspective of the sector. Including the word “environment” in the Standard in an industry so involved in environmental issues. That is, for me, the most important political message.
We are talking specifically about companies’ payments to the governments, environmental fees and taxes. Sometimes these are substantial investments. Another thing that seems small, but is actually very important, is publishing the whole environmental legislation, explaining the obligations, procedures and sanctions for all, in a systematic and easy to understand
Finally, everything regarding the environmental impact monitoring will be published as well: Environmental Impact Assessments, licenses, reports and the State’s feedbacks to these reports, among others. Now it is time for the national commissions to define what new information will be included in this definition; but the transparency of all environmental payments is mandatory.
And social conflicts?
This inclusion allows to democratically transform these conflicts. The possibility to rely upon accurate information will allow to be held accountable, reducing speculation levels over who’s accountable for which liability. This alone won’t end conflicts surrounding these projects, but it will allow for a more democratic and better-informed management.
What new challenges await the civil society after this inclusion?
Mainly two. The first is implementation. We have to achieve the interpretation of this new Standard in the most proactive and innovative way possible across multi-actor groups in a national level. The other matter is all the work that is required to achieve an effective implementation. There are advancements in contract publishing, in the segregation of information by gender. Looking into this is also a challenge. These are just the first steps towards environmental transparency. Even issues like previous consultation, biodiversity, water usage, climate risk or energy transition are things we still must work on.
How do you evaluate the role of civil society in the process?
Well, it’s been a fundamental role. This letter we got to put on the table, with over 140 organizations from Latin America and the Caribbean, to which then other organizations adhered from all over the world, speaks well about the level of coordination and the capacity to press forward in a positive way during the debate. There, of course, I would like to express my appreciation to the DAR team, which helped us coordinating all of this. Without a doubt this campaign, 3 years in the making, was also important. Just a few years ago EITI was not about environmental transparency nor gender, and the pressure from within the civil society has made this possible.