Jakarta, PWYP Indonesia – The Secretariat of Publish What You Pay (PWYP) London, England, together with the PWYP coalition in Asia-Pacific, held a meeting to discuss challenges and strategies in promoting transparency and accountability in the extractive industry sector through the online media Zoom, Tuesday (1/12 / 2020). Present at this meeting were PWYP Australia, PWYP Indonesia, PWYP Philippines, PWYP Papua New Guinea, PWYP India, and PWYP Timor Leste.

The PWYP Asia-Pacific coalition meeting was divided into two sessions. The first session discussed the reforms carried out by each PWYP coalition in each Asia-Pacific country facilitated by Emil Omarov (PWYP Manager for Asia-Pacific, Eurasia, and MENA). The second session was a panel discussion with the theme ‘Challenges and Strategies to Promote Transparency and Accountability in the Asia-Pacific Extractive Industry Sector’ facilitated by Chadwick Llanos (Representative of CSO EITI Philippines, PWYP Global Council).

The first session was opened by presenting the PWYP Australia work updates by the National Coordinator, Clancy Moore. He explained PWYP Australia’s 2020 strategy focuses on increasing transparency between the government and extractive companies, aligning PWYP Australia’s performance with the context of the energy transition amid the Covid-19 pandemic, and building a network of PWYP Australia coalitions with stakeholders. The same thing was conveyed by the National Coordinator of PWYP Indonesia, Aryanto Nugroho. He conveyed that five priority agendas became the basis for PWYP Indonesia’s work. These priorities include encouraging improved governance in the oil and gas sector, encouraging improved governance in the mineral and coal sector, encouraging governance in energy, environment, and sustainable development, strengthening capacity and developing organizational independence; and strengthening the secretariat network national and coalition.

The next work update was delivered by Vince Lazatin, Bantay Kita National Coordinator (PWYP Philippines). Bantay Kita is focused on capacity building to build stakeholder participation in the implementation of EITI in the Philippines. “Bantay Kita encourages the government to regulate natural resource extraction in an open and accountable manner,” said Vince. Furthermore, Saswati Sweetlana, a representative of PWYP India, explained that several agenda activities focus on PWYP India’s current work, those are the struggle to reclaim Indigenous people’s rights to natural resources and a National seminar on environmental and natural resource social audits.

Collette Tsiperau, the representative of PWYP Papua New Guinea, said that PWYP Papua New Guinea has the main objective of coordinating and facilitating civil society in implementing EITI. Collette explained that three mines in Papua New Guinea are among the world’s six worst water-polluting mines. Thus, PWYP Papua New Guinea’s work is based on the struggle to ensure the local community can enjoy the extractive industry’s transparency and those extractive industry revenues. Lastly, Estavanus Coli, the PWYP Timor Leste representative, delivered an update on the PWYP Asia-Pacific coalition’s work. Estavanus said that PWYP Timor Leste’s current focus is on promoting the community’s right to consent and information base on extractive industries and supporting the implementation of EITI in Timor Leste.

The second session was a panel discussion with two speakers, Audrey Gaughran (Senior Director of the Natural Resources Governance Institute/NRGI) and Sreedhar Ramamurthi (Co-Founder of the Environics School of Management Sciences). Audrey outlined three priorities for transparency and accountability in her presentation, including building and strengthening existing opportunities and potentials, evaluating past transparency performance, and returning to basics: power and information asymmetry. Meanwhile, Shreedar complemented Audrey’s explanation by describing the challenges in fostering transparency in the extractive industry. “The big challenge is major changes regarding various laws that are in the limelight, tactics of diversion of issues by the local government, more concessions to companies in the momentum of the Covid-19 pandemic, the arrest of civilians for protests, and crowds, and massive weakening of labor laws. This indication has occurred in several countries.” concluded Sreedhar.

PWYP Executive Director Elisa Peter underlined important points for PWYP’s work. Elisa said that the transparency of contracts between extractive companies and the government is very crucial in fighting corruption, money laundering, tax fraud, and other crime risks. Apart from contract transparency, Elisa advised that PWYP should focus more on strategic discussions on energy transition. “All PWYP coalitions in Asia-Pacific are expected to be swift in facing challenges and opportunities to create an extractive industry that is open, transparent, accountable, and sustainable, especially amid the pandemic and poverty,” she said. (cra)