Of course, the most important EITI contribution to date is stronger dialogue among government, civil society and extractive companies. Reporting is not enough.
To help stakeholders strengthen networks and analyze the wealth of data available to them through EITI reports, the Eurasia Extractive Industries’ Knowledge Hub of the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) organized a workshop in Istanbul from June 22 to 24, drawing 22 participants from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Ukraine—mostly members of multi-stakeholder groups (MSGs), which oversee the national EITI implementation process.
The workshop aimed to detail NRGI’s EITI report analysis methodology and create multistakeholder approaches to discussing problems and finding solutions. It also gave participants a forum for sharing experiences, especially those from countries that have not yet published reports, such as Tajikistan.
“I have been involved in the EITI process in my country from the very beginning, and the main aim of my participation here is to learn how to work with our EITI report and contribute quality reporting,” said Tojinisso Azizova, a civil society actor who serves on Tajikistan’s MSG.
In the week leading up to the training, Tajikistan’s newly elected MSG members benefited from their own three-day training, organized by Soros Tajikistan, with support from the country’s ministry of finance. Sessions covered the EITI Standard and reporting, the validation process, and the strengths and weaknesses of EITI implementation in Eurasian countries, for example.
At the international training in Instanbul, participants from all five Eurasian countries found an opportunity to learn from NRGI experts, particularly with regard to gaps in EITI reporting.
“There’s lots of data, but very little analysis of it,” said Svetlana Ushakova, a civil society representative from Kazakhstan. While information on beneficial ownership and production sharing agreements in the country is publicly available, she added, EITI reporting has lagged.
With the help of NRGI and Eurasia Hub staff, workshop participants examined Kazakhstan’s latest report—the only published report available in Russian—using NRGI’s analysis methodology. This three-step process involves data collection, an evaluation based on the Natural Resource Charter and other best practices, and policy recommendations.
“This workshop is very important for us,” said Kazakhstan’s Elvira Jantureeva, who represents the Ministry of Investments and Development. “Now we will be better able to find gaps and prevent them during the next reporting period.”
Following sessions and group work on license allocation, state-owned enterprises, sub-national transfers and other topics, MSG representatives of other countries reported a similar improvement in knowledge and technical ability—perhaps most markedly in Azerbaijan.
“The state oil company of Azerbaijan publishes annual information on oil production in the country. On the other side, BP also does reporting. But there’s always a discrepancy between these information sources,” said Ilham Shaban, a civil society expert. “I will now look at EITI reports only for concrete and correct information.”
Sara Suleymanova, chief accountant of Binagadi Oil, an extractive company based in Azerbaijan, said the training would help her in her EITI reporting. “It is good to know where all that information goes and how it looks finally,” she said.
In the last session, participants discussed EITI reporting problems in their respective countries, proposed recommendations and developed short- and long-term action plans to achieve them.
Roman Nitsovich of Ukraine said that EITI analyses would help his country form government policies for sustainable development.
The coming months will prove important for those countries involved in the June training. Azerbaijan’s 2013 report in expected in July. Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine will also soon face deadlines for their first EITI reports. To that end, the timely training will enable MSGs to check the quality of their EITI reports and also prevent gaps in future reporting. New EITI reports and their analyses will also open new discussions and keep MSGs active.
Fidan Bagirova is NRGI’s Eurasia senior officer.