Executive Sessions on Politics and Extractive Industries

Over the last 15 years, there has been a surge in the number and diversity of organizations and initiatives working to strengthen the governance of extractive industries (oil, gas and mining), and to mobilize resources, tools and frameworks to translate resource wealth into tangible development outcomes.  As a result of this growing attention to the field, there have been notable accomplishments in recent years.  The cloak of confidentiality that has shrouded the sector is being steadily lifted; both voluntary initiatives like EITI and mandatory disclosure requirements have started to generate a wealth of data about the sector, including payment and revenue data and more information about the ownership and operation of extractive projects. In addition, the field has made important progress on identifying good practice and good policies related to the full value chain of extraction, including around local content, shared use of infrastructure, taxation, benefit sharing, and many other issue areas.  There also has been a notable increase in the number of trainings and tools, including open fiscal models and databases of contracts and project data, to support the technical capacity of host governments and other actors to implement available guidance and to use the expanding stock of information and data.

At the same time, there is a growing sense within the field that despite the great advancements in transparency, data generation, acceptance of good governance norms, availability of technical assistance, and other accomplishments, the many activities, strategies and research thus far have not significantly advanced the ultimate goals of the field, including improved well-being of citizens in resource-rich countries.

The emerging consensus is that, in part, progress on these fronts has been impeded by the relative neglect by the field of political considerations. Such political considerations include, for instance, better understandings of: the landscape, workings, and interactions of relevant domestic and global institutions; the impact of different distributions of power on how policies are selected and implemented; the nature of political will and different types of incentives and constraints facing key actors along the decision chain; how these, in turn, influence policy preferences, implementation and impacts; and other political dynamics at local, sub-national, national, regional and global levels that can determine how extractive industries will be governed and what the actual outcomes of their development in a given country will be.  The practical limits of technical interventions and normative advocacy to date strongly suggest the importance of addressing issues related to political context, and yet, within the governance of extractive industries (GEI) field, how various stakeholders can and should address such issues in research or practice remain strikingly underdeveloped.

CCSI, with support from the Open Society Foundations, will apply the Executive Sessions model– based on regular, on-going interactions among key practitioners and researchers around a difficult set of challenges facing a given field – to advance the field’s approach to understanding and addressing the effects of politics on the outcomes of extractive industries in a concerted way.

Updates and outcomes of these executive sessions will be posted on this page.