Catalysing transformative change in beneficial ownership transparency
The research, conducted to inform the design of a global programme to bring about transformative change in BOT in the extractive industry, looked at two main research themes: preliminary country selection process and criteria, and understanding the priorities, needs, and demands of implementers. It has shown that the assumptions that were previously held are largely valid, but it has also added considerable nuance to how these are framed. As an overarching conclusion, the research has shown that implementing BOT in the extractive industry is challenging and complex, and the demand for technical assistance to overcome and break down these complexities is currently far larger than the supply. There is a complex political economy of incentives around the implementation of BOT that needs to be understood on a country by country basis. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused delays as well as providing new opportunities for engagement, the timing and relevance of the programme appear opportune.
For the country selection criteria, one of the main findings has been that criteria related to successful implementation and positive impact are interlinked, and therefore it is more practical for the programme design to look at which criteria it can affect directly and over which it can exercise some influence. Political will has emerged as the most important factor in successful implementation. Because of its complexity, it is more useful for the programme to attempt to break this down as much as possible into its constituent parts. One method that the programme could use to mitigate the risks associated with political will is to use a funnel approach. This includes having small interventions in a larger number of countries, and using these as a way to conduct initial scoping and assess political will, to scale up the interventions in a limited number of countries.
In terms of the support services the programme will offer as well as the programme’s beneficiaries, the main conclusion is that it is not practicable to identify typologies of implementing countries, each with a specific set of challenges. There are certain challenges that are common in all countries, and others that do not appear across the board. It is only possible to correlate a limited number of implementer challenges with specific country characteristics. Therefore, support services are best designed as a menu. The research has also highlighted a number of specific implementation needs for which the programme should design targeted interventions. Whilst government is the primary beneficiary of support with BOT reform itself, the programme should treat civil society and industry as primary beneficiaries due to the fact that CSOs and industry play a critical role as intermediaries and catalysts in implementation.
Overall, it appears that at this point in time, the coronavirus crisis is causing delays to implementation in some countries, but also creating new incentives for implementation in other countries. The programme will need to apply a “COVID-19 lens” to its programme design, and assess on a case by case basis how this is affecting both the country selection criteria as well as individual implementers and their paths to implementation.
Finally, a number of areas for further research have been identified. During implementation, the programme should continue to conduct research to further unpack political will, which should feed into its MEL framework. The programme should also further explore the role of corruption as a blocker for implementation and a precondition for impact. Further research should be conducted on the role of industry and extractive industry regulators in particular. Lastly, whilst this research has shed some light on early and short-term impacts of COVID-19, it is difficult to say what will happen in the long-term. This report was written as many countries have managed to gain control over the first waves of infections, but many countries are experiencing a rise in infections as restrictions are lifted. It is unclear what subsequent waves of infections, the loss of jobs, and the longer-term effects on the economy will have on BOT reforms and implementation. The programme should build in continuous monitoring and analysis of the impact of COVID-19.