On December 6, 2021, IDFI held an international high-level online conference on good governance, titled Sustainable Governance of Natural Resources: the Role of Transparency, Lessons Learned and Future Plans. The Forum was organized by the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), with the support of the global philanthropic organization, Luminate. It was the third in a series of Good Governance Forums (GG Forum), held annually in Georgia since 2019, and gathered international experts, representatives of governments, civil society, the private sector, and international community, with the goal of advancing the good governance reform agenda by raising awareness, exchanging best practices, and fostering debate.
The 2021 GG Forum aimed to contribute to good governance reforms by exchanging best practices and fostering debate on sustainable governance of natural resources, beneficial ownership transparency, Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, and Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Network. The conference intended to do this by engaging local and international experts and all relevant stakeholders from various sectors around several key related issues: beneficial ownership transparency, good governance principles in the energy sector, Georgia’s prospects for endorsing BO and EITI principles and strengthening women’s voice.
The representatives of prominent international organizations working on these topics, as well as public institutions of different countries, including Open Government Partnership (OGP), Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), Publish What You Pay (PWYP), Transparency International (TI), Energy Transparency Association, Natural Resource Governance Institute, etc, delivered speeches during the conference.
Giorgi Kldiashvili, the Executive Director of IDFI, opened and moderated the conference.
“Without good governance, social progress is in fact unachievable. A large number of economies are heavily dependent on natural resource extraction. Maximum transparency and good management of this process is crucial for sustainable development and improvement of people’s lives. Many countries rich in natural resources do not show high economic growth due to weak institutions, corruption, conflict, and poor governance. EITI and PWYP are international mechanisms that help improve natural resource governance by improving open data, access to information on beneficial owners, and, more generally, transparency and good governance”, – mentioned Giorgi in his opening remarks.
The first panel about Sustainable Governance of Natural Resources: Synergies, Principles and Impact Stories, was moderated by Mr. Mark Robinson – Executive Director, Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). The panelists included:
- Mr. Galib Efendiev - Eurasia Director, Natural Resource Governance Institute
- Mr. Joseph Foti - Chief Research Officer, Open Government Partnership (OGP)
- Ms. Olena Pavlenko - Global Council Chair, Publish What You Pay
- Ms. Zuzana Wienk - Member of the Steering Committee, Open Government Partnership (OGP)
- Mr. Ferdian Yazid - Accountable Mining Project Coordinator, Transparency International Indonesia
During the panel, speakers covered Sustainable Governance of Natural Resources - synergies, principles, and impact stories. Through some of the leading solutions suggested, panelists stressed the importance of energy transition and the role of the EITI in helping countries go through this transition. It was mentioned how important it is for the process CSOs not to be left out and the knowledge they can share with relevant decision-makers. In addition to understanding, the critical role civil society tools play in this process was emphasized.
The panel discussion also touched upon the experience of Slovakia in terms of Beneficial Ownership transparency and the multi-stakeholder cooperation to support the reforms. Lastly, the role of transparency of the extractive industry in preventing corruption and the efforts of EITI and Publish What You Pay were also underlined.
The second panel concerned Natural Resource Governance in EaP Countries: the State of Play, Prospects, and Future Plans. It was moderated by Ms. Oliana Valigura, Regional Director for Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, EITI Secretariat. The panelists included:
- Mr. Emil Omarov - Member Engagement Manager for Asia-Pacific, Eurasia and MENA regions, Publish What You Pay (PWYP)
- Mr. Oleksiy Orlovsky - Democratic Practice Program Director, International Renaissance Foundation
- Ms. Lusine Tovmasyan - National Coordinator, EITI Armenia
During the second panel, the speakers examined the challenges of the EaP countries in ensuring sustainable management of natural resources and, more importantly - success stories in this area. The case of Armenia was particularly relevant to Georgia, as it could set an excellent example for CSOs, political organizations, and government institutions.
The influence of the pandemic restrictions was highlighted as one of the main obstacles for both civil society and EITI to operate properly. Still, the progress it caused in creating new electronic tools to overcome this barrier was also noted.
The final panel on the Role of Networks/Coalitions in Sustainable Natural Resource Governance and Georgia was moderated by Ms. Mariam Maisuradze, Anti-Corruption Direction Head at Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI). The panel speakers included:
- Mr. Danila Bekturganov - Director, Public Foundation "Civil Expertise"
- Mr. Ilham Huseynli - Associate Professor, Coordinator of the Azerbaijan National Coalition EITI / PWYP
- Ms. Olga Khaulyak - Head, Energy Transparency Association
The panel underlined the importance of a coordinated approach by civil society organizations, shared responsibilities, and unified advocacy campaigns for strengthening state organizations' transparency and increasing commercial entities' social responsibility. International experts of the panel spoke regarding local coalitions and networks, as they remain vital in ensuring public support for particular reforms, while at the same time, they create venues for different stakeholders to become engaged in implementing reforms. The panelists also highlighted several challenges their coalitions and local organizations face locally.
The panelists also noted the need for Georgia to become a member of EITI, stressing the need for the existence of political will in this direction. They also provided guidance to Georgian colleagues on what to consider in advance, since Georgian CSOs plan to accelerate advocacy efforts to advance transparency and accountability principles in the energy sector.
Please find the full recordings of the panels:
1. GG Forum 2021 Opening remarks
2. Panel I: Sustainable Governance of Natural Resources: Synergies, Principles and Impact Stories
3. Panel II: Natural Resource Governance in EaP Countries: The State of Play, Prospects, and Future Plans
4. Panel III: Role of Networks/Coalitions in Sustainable Natural Resource Governance and Georgia
5. GG Forum 2021 Final Remarks
Agenda and Information about Speakers you can find here.
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