Dear friends and partners,
Unprecedented. Pandemic. Lockdown. Oil price crash. Net zero. Decolonizing development. You’re on mute. In a year that could have left us speechless, we found our voice.
2020 was a litmus test for natural resource governance. We confronted entrenched and emerging challenges with renewed purpose, inspired by the urgency of our mission to improve the lives of people in resource-rich countries.
The crash in oil prices previewed a dark future for fossil fuel-producing countries unprepared for the energy transition. Revenue shortfalls threatened to undermine decades of gains in governance, environmental and social standards. Emergency measures and movement restrictions were manipulated to crack down on civic space and public dialogue. Debt loomed large in countries where leaders had bet on the singular promise of extractive wealth.
At NRGI, the crisis inspired us to evolve. We accelerated our work on the energy transition. We led the charge on capacity building for a virtual world. We became nimbler, but no less rigorous. We deepened our country-level analysis to help policymakers and citizens understand and navigate the decisions ahead.
We seized significant, unexpected opportunities. We drew on our expertise and years of investment in partnerships with civil society actors, journalists, policy makers, companies, and regional and international financial institutions. We responded swiftly and effectively to pandemic-driven developments in the extractive sector.
When opacity obstructed public debate on future economic considerations for Guinea, we worked with Guinean groups to convince the government to disclose information about its response to the pandemic and expectations for the evolution of the mining sector.
When Ghana’s government rushed through parliament a flawed proposal to mortgage the country’s future gold royalties to fund recovery efforts, we supported civil society to spur public debate and expose the corruption risks.
And when fear that political unrest and low commodity prices would scare off investors led the Peruvian legislature to consider lowering social and environmental standards, we assisted civil society to make the case that such compromises were ill-conceived.
We reinforced these country-level efforts by collaborating with investors on solutions to the debt crisis, and by ensuring that the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative was responsive and relevant in the pandemic context.
For me personally, it was a tough but rewarding year to assume the role of NRGI’s interim president and CEO. I am so very grateful to our partners for inspiring us; to our funders for your flexibility and support; to our Governing Board and Advisory Council for your wisdom and guidance; and most of all to NRGI’s talented staff, for your passion, innovation and commitment to excellence.
Now, more than ever, natural resource governance is the keystone of sustainability and resilience for more than one billion people living in poverty in resource-rich countries. As we look to 2021, we are undaunted by the magnitude of the challenges and emboldened to seize the opportunities ahead.
With best wishes,
Interim President and CEO