US withdrawal from EITI Implementation - EITI still strong but needs to allow developing economies to lead more

US withdrawal from EITI Implementation – EITI still strong but needs to allow developing economies to lead more

The US, as most readers will know, has withdrawn from EITI implementation. It remains an EITI supporter, however, and while it is disappointing news overall, it is important to respect sovereign decisions of EITI supporting and implementing countries alike.

Aside from Norway, with its originating role as the headquartering country of the EITI, the withdrawal of the US leaves the UK as the leading, developed-economy implementing state. The UK has completed the requisite 2 annual reports and will be fully validated in Summer 2018, and of course the UK is proud of its role in helping to create the EITI.

Germany is now following in the footsteps of the UK, which is very welcome indeed, but as can be seen from the present implementing country status, developed economies which support the EITI are still reluctant to join. That’s the primary reason states like Brazil and India will not join as implementing countries at the moment.

The EITI is an initiative for the world, however, not just something done to developing nations by developed ones. So, the US’s withdrawal  – for its own unique reasons – notwithstanding, it is very much to be hoped that the EITI goes from strength to strength amongst developing and developed nations alike.

It is time, however, for developing nations to play a larger part in the leadership of the organisation at all levels. This will reflect their commitment to the initiative, and will start to create more balanced representation across the board.

At present, for example, the EITI is led by a Chair and Head of Secretariat from Sweden, and and Deputy Head of Secretariat from the UK. All are white men. At the EITI Board, although the overwhelming majority of extractive operations are in the developing economies, apart from one excellent Peruvian national every single company representative is white European or American. The latter is true of every ‘supporting countries’ representative at the Board – indeed it appears that every single highly developed economy represented at the EITI has a white representative. Every one of the senior NGOs listed at the EITI website are run by white officers based in the US or Europe.

The EITI is only too aware of this, and its staff reflect its nation members very well. And yet while change does take time, this is no excuse for doing little or nothing or, frankly, for failing to include properly representative diversity in national delegations.

It’s striking that unlike the the developed economies, some developed economies are represented by high-grade ministers. Surely it is time for such people to take on a much greater leadership role, in full recognition of their nations’ growing role in raising standards of transparency and gender/ethnic equality across the world?