The Politics of Transparency and Accountability: Views from the Field

Our discussion paper, Getting the most out of extractive industries transparency, maps a range of ways in which political realities can impact the efforts of actors pursuing greater transparency in extractive industries. Perhaps even more valuable is hearing from some of these actors themselves. This blog series provides an opportunity to do just that and to learn from the experiences of those working most closely on these issues. As with all our work on the politics of extractive industries, our goal with this series is to illuminate why and how actors working in this field can more systematically address the political factors that can profoundly shape the trajectories and impact of their strategies to improve governance and development outcomes from extractive industries.


Blog Series:

Beverley Hatcher-Mbu of Development Gateway explores some of the politics of data production and dissemination that can limit the accessibility and exhaustiveness of extractive industry data. The author also shares some experiences and ideas for understanding and addressing these to improve prospects of positive impact.

While the inventory of international and national commitments, laws, and regulations to advance transparency, participation, and accountability in the extractive industries has expanded significantly over the last few decades, implementation of many of these rules remains weak. Drawing on the Natural Resource Governance Institute's work exploring these "implementation gapsin Africa and beyond, Amir Shafaie, Moses Kulaba, and Kaisa Toroskainen discuss some of the key political factors driving these gaps between rules and practice and argue that closing them will require fresh thinking and deliberate action.

Traditional anti-corruption approaches can often fail to make meaningful progress in practice. Drawing on research conducted as part of SOAS' Anti-Corruption Evidence program, Pallavi Roy, Research Director for the program, argues that existing anti-corruption efforts can stumble in part because they tend to be founded on problematic assumptions that do not hold in many countries and in part because they take a de-contextualized approach to transparency and data. In unpacking and exploring these issues, Dr. Roy offers ideas for reimagining both the goals of anti-corruption work and the strategies through which they are pursued, including thoughts on how data and transparency might be approached in more problem-driven and context-specific ways.

Civil society actors working to demand good governance of extractive industries worldwide routinely run up against major imbalances of power with industry and states that can work against efforts to steer these sectors for the greater good. Members of the global Publish What You Pay (PWYP) network regularly experience the challenges of these long political odds firsthand. Drawing on these experiences, Elisa Peter, Executive Director, and Olena Pavlenko, Global Council Chair, discuss key political challenges PWYP and others face in trying to push for more accountability in the extractive industries, share some of the ways they attempt to address these challenges, and offer thoughts on confronting political obstacles to improve extractives governance moving forward.

Successful EITI implementation hinges on a number of political factors. Government commitment, openness to reform and freedom of press all underpin the EITI’s mission of strengthening accountability and public understanding of natural resource management. EITI Executive Director, Mark Robinson, outlines how politics influence the EITI process, from the preliminary stages of applying for membership to the diffusion of data reported through the EITI.