Dear colleagues, friends and partners,
Another momentous year for the world and for the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) is coming to an end. It has been full of achievements as well as challenges, with bright prospects and opportunities ahead.
NRGI’s first strategy period, which started well over five years ago, is now ending, with many achievements globally and in our countries of focus. After extensive work and consultation, we are pleased to share our finalized 2020-2025 Strategy. Significant lessons and feedback shared by our community shaped and strengthened this new strategy. Thank you for engaging with us in this process.
In the coming year, we will build on our achievements and strengths, while ambitiously adapting to evolving realities. In our new strategy, we commit to assisting countries to get a good deal for their resources, and ensure that the resulting revenues are managed for the benefit of citizens—today and for future generations. In light of the climate emergency we face globally, we will scale up and deepen our support to help resource-rich countries navigate the complex energy transition. We will also address the significant challenge of corruption and state capture in many resource-rich countries, a major obstacle to diversification, energy transition and development. These constitute the four major and interrelated pillars of our strategy.
Partnering for impact at the country level remains paramount for us, and we will build on our evidence-based policy analysis and experience in our countries of focus. The new strategy outlines concrete country-based lessons and achievements that guide us ahead. Examples, detailed in the strategy, include:
- work with communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo engaging with multinational mining companies resulting in the building of roads and wells
- the advent of contract transparency with accountability in Mexico (and subsequent sharing of lessons with Ghana and Lebanon)
- supporting transparency in macroeconomic and state-owned enterprise (SOE) accounts in Myanmar so as to enhance financial integrity
- increasing civic space in Tunisia resulting in resource governance reforms, as well as the Resource Governance Index (RGI) driving reforms in Guinea, Tunisia and Qatar, among others
- Our SOE data and policy analysis work associated with reforms in many countries
In this context let me also note our collective work with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), where I served for two terms as a board member until June. We at NRGI contributed to the adoption of the 2019 EITI Standard, which contains important new requirements relevant for our country-level work, such as in advancing transparency in contract, payment, gender, SOE, commodity trading and environmental reporting.
Our new strategy, complemented by a strong management cadre and rigorous and respected expertise, lays a strong foundation that will enable NRGI to respond to current and future challenges and opportunities. This strategically pivotal moment comes also with timely institutional transitions. This coming year, 2020, will be my eighth with our organization. I started at the helm of the Revenue Watch Institute in 2012, and oversaw its merger with the Natural Resource Charter and thus the inception of NRGI, and then the implementation of our 2014-2019 strategy.
Together, we at NRGI have built a strong and credible organization, promoting good governance in resource-rich countries through evidence-based analysis and concrete engagement with countries and global institutions. We expanded our research, data and analysis contributions, rising up through think tank rankings over the years.
We developed targeted lines of work around corruption risks on which we will expand, encompassing state capture. Our empirical flagship, the RGI, has been a calling card, opening doors around the world. We have faced and will face challenges, of course, yet together we have made a difference and positioned NRGI as a leading organization on resource governance.
Mindful of our achievements and the clear path ahead at this pivotal time, during February 2020 I will step down as the chief executive, further contributing substantively to NRGI until mid-year. We will launch a competitive search, led by the interim chair of our governing board, to identify NRGI’s next president and CEO. Upon moving on from being the chief executive in February, I will assume the role of chief advisor until the end of July, supporting the interim president and CEO and helping to deepen the work around our new strategic pillars, state capture and corruption as well as the energy transition.
I am very pleased to announce that, with the full approval of the board and support from staff, our outstanding chief operating officer, Suneeta Kaimal, will assume the role of interim president and CEO in February. At NRGI, Suneeta has been a key partner and leader over the past ten years, responsible, with colleagues, for many organizational and programmatic achievements. We all look forward to her further leadership in this new role, a clear recognition of her managerial talents and contributions. The high caliber of our staff and managers around the world, supported by an impressive board, bolsters my confidence about NRGI’s future.
Finally, I would like to share news about recent transitions in our governing board. Our chair, Ernesto Zedillo, the former President of Mexico, who admirably led NRGI’s board since its inception in 2014, stepped down in November. We are immensely appreciative of his key leadership and substantive contributions. Smita Singh, a long-standing partner and supporter of NRGI, leading thinker in global development, and our vice-chair, is assuming the role of interim chair. She will play a critical role in the months ahead as we search for a new board chair.
Reflecting on the transitions ahead, I am enormously proud of the organization NRGI has become. While this is not a farewell, let me take this opportunity at the end of a momentous year to thank our staff, our partners, and our funders for joining us on this collective quest for improved governance in resource-rich countries, for the benefit of their citizens. Such partnership and shared vision is crucial in these turbulent times.
For those taking time to relax and celebrate, let me warmly wish you a restorative end to the month. And to all, best wishes for a hopeful and fruitful start to the new year.