SDN actively works to promote financial transparency in the oil and gas sector in Nigeria, which is concentrated in the Niger Delta. SDN is also currently engaged in a number of projects and initiatives to close the loop on transparency from oil industry payments to government through to on-the-ground delivery of projects that benefit communities – especially those that suffer the burden of hosting the oil industry’s infrastructure and spill risks.
As a PWYP member, we support PWYP’s global campaign to further improve financial transparency in the extractives sector in 2021, and call on the Nigerian government to lead the way. Please read more about PWYP’s campaign below, and our own related work.
The struggle for transparency in oil, gas and mining has reached a new milestone.
From January 1, 2021, the 55 countries who have joined the Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) – the global standard for the open and accountable management of extractive resources – are required to make public their new contracts with mining, oil and gas companies.
This is a seminal moment for civil society groups around the world – including thousands of PWYP members – who for years have campaigned to remove the secrecy shrouding oil, gas and mining contracts.
Contracts are crucial to natural resource extraction, as they determine how the profits and costs are divided between oil, gas and mining companies and their host countries.
Keeping contracts hidden from the public denies citizens the right to know how their countries benefit from the extraction of their natural resources. More generally, secrecy allows corruption to fester, and the wealth from natural resources to be siphoned into the bank accounts of small groups of elites, at the expense of wider populations, and the health, education and other vital public services they depend on.
SDN created Develop.ND, an app for communities, particularly those hosting oil infrastructure, to see what projects are being funded in their area.
We have won the argument for contract disclosure in principle. Hundreds of contracts around the world have now been published and the principle of disclosure is accepted by governments, investors, multilateral institutions and many major oil, gas and mining companies.
But our next challenge is making sure that disclosure happens in practice. Countless contracts, including some of the biggest and most important, remain secret.
That is why, in 2021, PWYP members around the world will push for the comprehensive disclosure of all contracts relating to oil, gas and mineral extraction.The EITI requirement for contract disclosure clearly marks an important breakthrough for transparency in the extractive sector, but it is far from the endgame.
For a start, EITI countries are only required to disclose new contracts from 2021, not those contracts which are already in force, and which will shape the extraction of natural resources in those countries for many years to come. What’s more, in many countries, some contracts have been published but not others.
So we will now advocate for all contracts to be in the public domain, by making sure that the EITI’s current rules are implemented, that these rules are extended to include all existing contracts, and that national laws in PWYP countries – including those which are not part of the EITI or affected by its rules – make contract disclosure mandatory.
The people’s portal is an SDN project designed to increase transparency in what development projects are planned for the Niger Delta by key government Ministries, Departments and Agencies. This is important in making payments to government from the extractive sector relevant to communities on the ground.
Disclose the deal
Communities around extraction sites must be able to access and scrutinise all the official documents relevant to a contract, in particular those concerning the effects of extraction on society and the environment, like environmental or human rights impact assessments.
We will campaign for all these documents to be disclosed as well, so that people who are directly affected by mining or other extractive sites in their areas, can defend their rights and receive the benefits they are entitled to.
We will also campaign for extractive companies to publicly declare their support for contract disclosure, and pledge to actively pursue it in the countries where they operate.
Resource-producing countries should enact laws or policies to ensure all contracts are made public promptly and without redaction, and include all the annexes, amendments and other official documents that are relevant to how they are implemented.
Alongside SDN’s work promoting increased financial transparency in oil and gas from the Niger Delta, SDN is committed to improving transparency around the HYPREP clean-up of the Ogoniland oil spills.
Why 2021 is important
For the disclosure of extractive contracts to have a real and lasting impact, however, civil society organisations and other concerned citizens, must have the freedom to scrutinise them, and the civic space to hold the companies and governments who manage their natural resources accountable.
As the financial pressures arising from Covid-19 around the world mount, our Disclose the Deal campaign (#DiscloseTheDeal) will face new challenges.
Companies will inevitably try to renegotiate contracts with fewer safeguards, stripping away the protections and benefits for local communities, sparking a race to the bottom. Governments too may be tempted to negotiate weaker deals in the pursuit of much needed revenues in the context of a global economic downturn, mounting public debt and the Covid-19 health emergency.
Full and prompt contract disclosure will be an essential tool to help stop this. Through PWYP’s #DislcoseTheDeal campaign, we will fight to ensure that all citizens have access to the information they need to protect their rights and ensure revenues from their natural resources are used for public benefit.