On 4 July, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Critical Minerals hosted the event ‘Responsible Sourcing: Introduction to UK EITI’. The event was an opportunity for stakeholders to come together to share their experiences of working with the EITI (Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative) and discuss the value of transparency for sustainable growth. The UK Government was a prime mover in helping to establish the EITI 20 years ago. The initiative remains an effective means of promoting greater understanding about natural resource management, strengthening public and corporate governance and accountability, and providing data to inform policymaking and multi-stakeholder dialogue in the extractive sector. The UK is one of 57 countries implementing the EITI. The event began with an introduction from the Vice-Chair of the APPG, The Rt Hon Baroness Lindsay Northover, who emphasised the value of transparency today. In a world of increasing geopolitical tensions and market shocks, the importance of transparency cannot be understated. As the energy transition gathers pace, demand for critical minerals is skyrocketing, and there looms a risk that governments and companies may fast-track projects without proper evaluation. That, combined with allegations of greenwashing and expanding ESG expectations from investors, means that responsible sourcing has never been more crucial.
After Baroness Northover’s introduction, attendees watched a video address by Sir Tony Blair”, an original champion of the EITI, who noted that extractives such as oil, gas, and minerals “underpin modern life”, but their significance to society doesn’t “automatically translate to sustainable development”.
Therein lies the utility of the EITI — with its emphasis on multi-stakeholder governance (including government, industry and civil society) and collective action, EITI champions a framework that aims to reform supply chains and improve the socio-economic conditions of communities all over the world. Sir Tony Blair congratulated EITI for its many accomplishments, outlined how EITI was founded and championed by the UK, and expressed his confidence in the value of EITI’s work.
Baroness Northover then invited Tim Stern, Director of International Energy Diplomacy at the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) to deliver a presentation on UK EITI. His presentation detailed the importance of the extractive industries to the nation’s prosperity (accounting for £26 billion in GDP in 2022) and the proficiency of the UK in implementing EITI. The UK ranks the timeliest of all 57 EITI members states in reporting, and has achieved a “high score” of 90 out of 100 in implementing the EITI Standard.
Following Tim’s presentation, Baroness Northover invited members of industry to give testimonies of their time working with EITI in the UK and abroad. Philipa Varris, Head of Sustainability at Horizonte Minerals and on the Board of Directors at Mkango Resources, shared her experience of working with EITI in Ghana. Ghana joined the EITI in 2003 and achieved compliance in 2010— a major accomplishment for a developing economy. Philipa explained how many developing nations in Africa end up joining EITI because of civil society’s insistence for major oil and mining companies to be more transparent.
Philipa shed light on the “widespread mythologies” that persist among affected communities in Africa. Many believe that mining companies never pay royalties, and governments are uninterested in correcting this narrative because it shifts blame away from government corruption. Most mining companies do pay royalties, taxes and other fees to the national government, but that money may not make it back to affected communities. One project in 2017 aimed to change this whereby the German Development Agency (GIZ) and the Ghana Chamber of Mines oversaw the redistribution of royalties that directly benefitted host communities. In her time working with mining companies and communities in Ghana, Philippa witnessed how multi-stakeholder dialogue transformed engagement from “outright hostility” to collaboration. “The EITI alleviates mistrust,” Phillipa concluded.
Jeff Geipel, Manager Director of Mining Shared Value, a non-profit initiative of Engineers Without Borders Canada, shared similar sentiments about his time working with EITI in Ghana. He emphasised that local procurement should be a priority in EITI implementation, having witnessed a British mining company adopt local procurement standards in Ghana and the transformative benefits it brought to local communities.
The testimonies of Philipa, Jeff, and other stakeholders in the audience affirmed the EITI’s positive impact on mining communities and businesses, as well as the value of multi-stakeholder dialogue in promoting transparency, democracy, and growth. As Jeff summarised: “If you don’t measure, you don’t manage.” EITI’s work in collecting data and championing transparency has informed responsible policymaking, reduced corruption, fostered local development, and strengthened public and corporate institutions of governance and accountability.
Thank you to everyone who attended the event, particularly Baroness Northover for hosting the event, Cherilyn Mackrory MP, Chair of the APPG for Critical Minerals, Tim Stern, and Michael Nash, UK EITI Secretariat, FCDO-DESNZ. We were delighted to welcome members of the EITI’s Secretariat, as well as members of industry, academia, and UK government. We hope to see the UK continue to champion the EITI and the institution’s values of transparency and multi-stakeholder dialogue.
If you’d like to find out how to get involved, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find out more about UK EITI here: https://www.ukeiti.org/extractive-industries-transparency-initiative
This article was written by Eileen Maes, Public Affairs & Communications Associate at the Critical Minerals Association (UK)