The Executive Session on the Politics of Extractive Industries


The Executive Session on the Politics of Extractive Industries (ES on PEI) is a policy innovation lab led by a group of experts – academics and practitioners – from across the world. Focusing on PEI entails grappling with the ways in which power, interests, incentives and characteristics of political systems shape how extractive industry projects are developed, their ultimate outcomes, and often the fate of governance interventions designed to improve these. The purpose of this group is to produce practical insights, new strategies, and tangible guidance to address a major challenge confronting all those hoping to improve outcomes from extractive industry development: the political aspects of the governance of the sector.  


 There are now a significant number and diversity of organizations and initiatives focusing on norm advocacy and the identification and promotion of technical “best practices” related to the governance of EI (GEI). This work on normative and technical aspects of governance has generated notable accomplishments over the last decade or so. 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, environmental practices, community engagement and consultation, and many other issue areas.  There also has been a notable increase in the number of trainings and tools – e.g., 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 inadequate attention devoted by the GEI field to political considerations, a conclusion that has also been emerging in the broader development field beyond EI. 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 GEI field, how various stakeholders can and should understand and address such issues in research or practice remain strikingly underdeveloped.  Too often there is a tendency to reduce the universe of political considerations to a narrow and immutable notion of “political will” which is fixed and difficult to act upon no matter how critical in shaping outcomes.

The Project 

The ES on PEI seeks to support the GEI field in developing more active approaches to the politics of EI by serving as a policy innovation lab focused on unpacking political context and generating specific ideas and directions for addressing the political aspects of the governance of extractives. In support of this agenda, CCSI is applying a modified version of the  Executive Sessions model– based on regular, on-going interactions among dedicated and committed 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 order to move practice and enhance outcomes.

October 2018 update:

At the third meeting of this Executive Session, from October 3 – 5, we launched a new informational video on the ES and discussed a number of issues related to the impact of politics on the efficacy of various areas of work were explored, including:

  • the need for, and opportunities to undertake, more politically sensitive approaches to technical assistance, including in emerging oil producer states like Guyana
  • the multi-dimensional impacts of politics on transparency efforts, such as the politics of enacting disclosure requirements, the politics of data production, and the politics of data use,
  • a range of possible approaches to holding various actors accountable under different political circumstances
  • the ways in which politics interact with the uptake and implementation of community consultation and respect for free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) processes in Latin America and beyond,
  • how the power and interests of global actors can shape outcomes in host countries in ways that do, but at times do not, align with good governance or development goals, and
  • the importance of identifying, cultivating and supporting reformers within various levels of governments and oversight institutions in order to advance both the uptake and the effective implementation of various reforms.

Look out for forthcoming updates on individual topics such as these and additional resources for exploring PEI.


  • Dr. Mohammed Amin Adam, Deputy Minister of Energy, Ghana
  • Saku Akmeemana, Principal Specialist for Governance, Department of Foreign Affairs, Australia
  • Dr. Ernest Aryeetey, Secretary-General, African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA)
  • Thomas Baunsgaard, Deputy Chief, Tax Policy Division, IMF Fiscal Affairs Department
  • Delphine K. Dijraïbé, Co-Founder, Chadian Association for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights and Chief Attorney at Public Interest Law Center (PILC)/CHAD
  • Michael Jarvis, Executive Director, Transparency & Accountability Initiative
  • Ramanie Kunanayagam, World Bank Inspection Panel Member; Industry Fellow, University Queensland
  • Dr. Cielo Magno, Assistant Professor, School of Economics, University of the Philippines Diliman
  • Dr. Valérie Marcel, Associate Fellow, Chatham House
  • Heather Marquette, Professor in Development Politics, International Development Department, University of Birmingham
  • Tom Mitro, Co-Director of the Graduate Certificate in Global Energy, Development and Sustainability, University of Houston
  • Dr. Francisco Monaldi, Fellow in Latin American Energy Policy, Baker Institute for Public Policy, Rice University
  • Carlos Monge, Regional Director, NRGI Latin America
  • Carole Nakhle, Founder and CEO, Crystol Energy
  • Lisa Sachs, Director, Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Dr. Cynthia Sanborn, Vice President for Research, Universidad del Pacífico
  • Dr. Ricardo Soares de Oliveira, Associate Professor, Department of Politics and International Relations
  • José Texeira, Attorney at Law and Partner, Da Silva Teixeira & Assoc., Lda.
  • Jeremy Weate, Natural Resource Governance Expert
  • Dr. Weijun Xie, Senior Engineer in International Business, China Minmetals Corporation

Advisory Board Members

  • Ian GaryDirector, Accountable Development Finance, Oxfam America
  • Deborah Isser, Lead Governance Advisor, The World Bank
  • Daniel Kaufmann, President and CEO, Natural Resource Governance Institute
  • Sheila Khama, Practice Manager, The World Bank
  • Antonio Pedro, Director, Sub-regional Office for Eastern Africa, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
  • Jeffrey Sachs, Director, Center for Sustainable Development, Columbia University
  • Leni Wild, Head of Politics and Governance Programme, Overseas Development Institute



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