Nusa Dua – Indonesia has just held the Asia Pacific Open Government Partnership (OGP) Conference on May 6-7 in Bali which was opened directly by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono with the theme “Unlocking Innovative Openness: Impetus to Greater Citizen Engagement”. In his remarks, SBY conveyed the importance of increasing greater community involvement in an open and transparent government. As co-chairs with Mexico, Indonesia led the formulation of the OGP strategic and operational agenda for 2015 – 2018, raised the quality of participation of countries and CSOs in the OGP movement, and attracted more countries in the Asia Pacific to join the OGP. OGP itself is an international initiative consisting of 64 governments and more than 200 civil society organizations that work together to encourage transparency, accountability, and community involvement.

One important issue at the OGP conference this time is transparency in the natural resource sector. Expansion of the discussion on extractive sector transparency in OGP, the country’s commitment to developing innovations related to access to information, participation and justice in natural resource management are issues that emerged during one of the OGP breakout conferences held by Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Indonesia cooperates with the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL) and Revenue Watch Institute (RWI) with the theme “Models of Openness in Sustainable Natural Resources Management”.

Emanuel Bria from RWI emphasized the importance of good governance in the management of state revenue management to encourage sustainable management of natural resources. Bria said based on the Resources Governance Index (RGI), countries in the Asia Pacific region have benefited from extractive industries at an average of 34% as state revenues. However, the use of natural resources is not accompanied by openness related to documents concerning environmental impacts, the right of indigenous communities (adat) to decide what kind of development activities they allow to take place in their customary lands (Free Prior Inform Concern) and so forth.

Lalanath de Silva from the World Resource Institute (WRI) said that OGP is more or less able to answer many problems related to transparency of state revenue. However, transparency is not enough if it is not accompanied by community involvement. OGP must be able to answer the challenge of the “curse of natural resources” where the amount of state revenue from the natural resource sector is not accompanied by an increase in the welfare of the community around the extractive industries and the preservation of the surrounding environment.

The experience of implementing (EITI Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative) in the Philippines shows that community involvement is needed to improve good governance in the mining sector, as well as environmental protection. This was conveyed by Elisea G. Gosun, Philippine Government Social Insurance System (GSIS).

The Bojonegoro Regent, Suyoto shared his experience in managing revenue from the SDA sector through various mechanisms including through regional development planning, opening public space, issuing a Regional Regulation on Transparency, and guaranteeing citizens participation in policymaking regarding natural resources. “The key is how we minimize the environmental and social impacts as well as how we use state revenue to bring positive impacts to society through openness,” Suyoto said.

Maryati Abdullah, Coordinator of Publish What You Pay Indonesia who is also a member of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) steering committee at the global level added that the issue of access to information and public participation is one of the fundamental factors of the implementation of the Open Government Partnership. Likewise in the natural resource sector, the problem of information asymmetry must be addressed to ensure transparency of governance both in the licensing and contract chains, operational monitoring, and openness in the chain of revenue and social development.