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Mark Robinson: My vision for the EITI

This blog is based on introductory remarks delivered by EITI Executive Director Mark Robinson, to the 42nd EITI Board in Kyiv. He lays out his reflections since he took up his role in November and offers his vision for the organisation moving forward. 

As I reach the 100-day mark since I stepped into my position as EITI Executive Director, I would like to share a few thoughts on what attracted me to lead the EITI and my vision going forward. My interest and excitement for the EITI have only grown during my first few months at the helm of this unique organisation. The 42nd EITI Board meeting in Kyiv was my first opportunity to address the EITI Board as a group, to meet all our Board members in person and to express my sincere appreciation for all the time they devote to the cause of improved extractives governance. 

Why the EITI? 

The EITI is a highly respected organisation, with deep technical proficiency and strong legitimacy among its diverse stakeholders. It’s an exemplary model of a multi-stakeholder model in practice, and for me it presents a unique opportunity to work with a tripartite group of governments, companies and civil society - a “curious coalition” to quote The Economist. Today, the EITI is full of potential, offering the scope to strengthen governance and improve development outcomes. On a personal level, I am looking forward to working with a new Board and chair, building on six months of a very fruitful relationship and learning process with our current Board and Fredrik Reinfeldt as Board chair.

A diverse, committed Secretariat 

I started my term by getting to know our talented, committed and hard-working staff. I especially cherish our multinational and multicultural work environment, with 37 staff from 22 countries. We are moderately expanding the Secretariat, moving offices in Oslo, and strengthening our technical capacity, management, financial and human resource systems, along with creating a sustainable financing model. I have met a number of times with our partners in Oslo, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, NORAD and Oil for Development, all of whom have expressed their strong support and desire for the EITI to stay in Norway. 

Developing our vision for the next 5-10 years

With a global network of over 1000 people, the EITI offers the potential to become a stronger and more inclusive global initiative. I believe we should hold ourselves to common standards, priorities and values across our network of National Secretariats and multi-stakeholder groups (MSGs) to work as one EITI, globally. Moving forward, there is room to broaden our partnerships and deepen stakeholder engagement in the development sector and wider governance community. We can demonstrate our wider relevance to global agendas, especially the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement and the Financing for Development initiative with its emphasis on domestic resource mobilisation. We should also enhance our efforts to demonstrate the EITI’s impact and highlight the importance of gender and social inclusion in the extractive industries. The EITI Global Conference in Paris will be a shared opportunity to communicate the EITI’s vision and shared priorities for the next 5-10 years. 

Evolving our mission

While the EITI is a relatively young initiative, it is nevertheless mature enough to predate the technology shift that has revolutionised how governments publish information and deliver services. EITI countries are fertile ground for systematic disclosure of extractives data. They have expressed a desire to move from heavy reporting to more efficient online disclosure, allowing them to focus on data that is timely, accessible, relevant and cost-effective. The EITI Secretariat and our supporting countries must now encourage implementing countries to make this shift through capacity development and peer to peer learning. In this spirit, we are refining the Standard to allow for flexibility and empower countries to innovate beyond minimum requirements, such as on gender and environmental reporting. By deepening our policy work to resonate with broader governance reforms on anti-corruption, domestic resource mobilisation, public sector reform and e-governance, we can ensure that the EITI remains relevant and is effective in targeting national priorities. 

Learning on the job

Thus far, I have had the honour and privilege of engaging with all three of the EITI’s constituencies, as well as meeting with our supporters, partners and donors. In Dakar, I enjoyed participating in the Publish What You Pay Global Assembly. In London, I met with many of our supporting companies at an event hosted by Rio Tinto where they agreed and signed up to a set of company expectations. I have also met with representatives of supporting countries in (Belgium, EU Norway, UK, and Switzerland and with the leadership and staff of major partners such as the Natural Resource Governance Institute. And most significantly, I have and will continue to prioritise visits to implementing countries such as Senegal, Côte D’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Mexico, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Mexico. My sincere appreciation to those of you who have extended their warm welcome and shared their experience and ideas on the EITI. I am looking forward to working with all of you in the run up to Paris to ensure this Board’s impressive legacy is strengthened in the future. 

This blog was originally published on the EITI website on 18 March 2019. 

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