An impressive amount of data from the oil, gas and mining industries has been collected through the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) since its launch in 2003. A total of 45 countries have now published EITI reports collectively, covering 282 financial years and representing over US$1.8 trillion in government revenues from the oil, gas and mining industries. Reporting of payments in the sector from companies to government is required by the EITI in an effort to increase accountability. In 2013, the EITI amended its transparency standard to require countries to disclose data beyond revenues. Reports now include information about governments’ sector and fiscal management, licensing, ownership of natural resources, employment and other contextual information.
But what does this data really tell us?
The challenge is that the bulk of EITI data remains buried in documents and locked in PDFs. This is a missed opportunity since a lack of consistency in the way various information disclosures are reported makes it difficult and labor intensive to use. Comparisons of data across countries and commodities are very difficult, which limits the value of EITI data beyond national boundaries. It also prevents country data from being understood within the bigger picture of global trends and comparisons. Consequently, this compromises the ability of EITI data to play a role in budget discussions and national debates and may raise questions about reliability of the data.
“EITI data needs to be more accessible and comparable so that policymakers can apply the information in their decision making processes and, equally importantly, so that civil society and academia can utilize the massive amounts of data generated to better engage on issues affecting the sector,” said Martin Lokanc, Senior Mining Specialist, World Bank Group.
To help overcome some of these challenges and improve the quality, accessibility and use of EITI data, the World Bank recently launched a report at the EITI Global Conference in Lima: “Options for EITI Data Reporting and Access: The Good, The Better and The Best.” Recognizing that countries have varying capacities to report data, the report provides recommendations on the good, better and best practices in reporting various types of EITI data in a standardized format and how best to make it accessible. It answers questions such as:
- What are the various options for reporting production data?
- How can data on legal and fiscal regimes governing the extractives sector be reported more effectively?
In order to preserve the comparability of data across countries, where possible the good, better and best recommendations are designed to be compatible with each other so countries can pick and choose how they want to report certain information.
More accessible EITI data will increase awareness about how countries’ natural resources are used and how extractives revenues are spent, which in turn enhances public debate, promotes accountability and strengthens governance.
“Unlocking EITI data will help transform the information in reports into a tool to inform policy decisions in resource-rich developing countries,” said Andrew Schloeffel, EITI Technical Lead, Energy and Extractives Global Practice, the World Bank Group.
The report is a working document that will help guide the formulation of an EITI Open Data Standard in support of EITI’s Open Data Policy. The report was developed in close collaboration with the EITI International Secretariat and with support from the EITI-Multi Donor Trust Fund. Moving forward, putting these recommendations into practice will be supported by the EGPS Multi Donor Trust Fund.