On the winning team – Tearfund's Policy Blog

May 10, 2013 by Melissa Lawson

Today made me think that perhaps we’re on the winning team after all – on the ‘cusp of a wave’ of transparency.  As an advocate, when you see a world leader call for action on an issue that you are passionate about, it does give you hope.

Kofi Annan today urged the world to ‘stop the plunder’ of Africa’s natural resources.  Watch this video of Kofi Annan speaking to find out why this is crucial – and why the G8 and G20 need to take action.

There is reason for optimism.  The forthcoming EU legislation, expected next month, would be a real success.  The US Dodd-Frank legislation and the forthcoming EU law would mean that approximately two-thirds of the world’s oil, gas and mining firms would be required to publish the payments they make on a project-by-project basis, enabling citizens from resource-rich countries to hold their leaders to account for its expenditure.

But we need the world to work together on this.  We need companies to be the most transparent they can be – to publish payments and contracts.   We need Governments to publish budgets – including revenues and expenditures, so that citizens can see where the money is spent.   But we also need civil society and citizens to ‘follow the money’, to ensure that it is used well – on hospitals, schools and roads.  Tearfund’s experience in Tanzania shows that tracking the use of budgets at this local level, can, and does make a difference.

Perhaps if there has ever been a case for us to ‘all be in this together’ it is for this – to stop the scourge of corruption and to ensure that revenues from natural resources aren’t wasted.

As Kofi Annan highlighted, the G8 next month is a great opportunity to continue in the direction of transparency.  G8 leaders need to commit to:

–          A global standard on transparency in the extractives sector – to commit to implement domestic legislation requiring extractive companies to publish what they pay to foreign governments.

–          Support civil society groups and infomediaries (such as parliaments, audit institutions, the media and civil society organisations) to interpret and use the data, in order that there is greater accountability

–           Reach the highest standards of budget transparency, to join the Open Government Partnership and to support other countries to publish budgets in a usable and understandable way.

Transparency throughout the natural resource process – from contracts, payments, revenues to budget expenditure, could enable the truth about corruption to finally be unearthed.