By Siri A. Rustad, Senior Researcher, PRIO.
November 17th the UNDP Oslo Governance Centre hosted a one-day seminar on the extractive industry and conflict prevention. The aim was to “deepening a shared understanding, explore synergies and identify areas for action on how to enhance the role of the extractive industries in promoting peaceful and inclusive societies.” The workshop touched upon both the reasons for the resource curse and preventive measures.

While the theme of the workshop, extractive industry and conflict, is not unique what made it particularly interesting is the UNDP linking it up to the new Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16: Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies. By framing extractive industry and conflict prevention seminar in this context, the literature on extractive industries and conflict catches a much larger audience and places natural resource governance in the broader understanding of governance.

I found particularly interesting the presentation by Pablo Valverde from the EITI on Transparency and effective management of revenues. While, previously the EITI has focused on transparency for the sake for transparency, Valverde argued that there was a shift in 2013, with the implementation of the new EITI standards, towards transparency with purpose. This is interesting as it no longer seems to be an assumption that as long as the member countries publish the EITI reports, we have transparency which then again should lead to better resource governance and eventually have positive societal effect such as poverty alleviation. The EITI should rather be seen as a tool box, from which the member countries use the strategies that are most relevant for them. One of the most important tasks is to create trust. One example of this is Tanzania, where a project supported by the EITI is converting the mining cadaster database from a bookshelf with fairly inaccessible documents to an electronic database. This arguably creates better overview as well as credibility and trust when presenting the data to various stakeholders.

The workshop brought about many interesting views and ways forward. However, while there were many references to the importance of including all stakeholder groups inclusive the government, civil society and the industry, the industry itself was sorely missing at this seminar.