Beneficial ownership transparency in the extractive industries

3.5 billion people from 81 countries across the globe live in resource-rich countries, and the rest of the world relies on these states for their energy and natural resources.

The extractive industries are extremely lucrative. They are a key source of income for resource-rich countries, and can help drive sustainable development and economic opportunities for all citizens.

Historically, the extractives industry has been opaque with little transparency or public oversight over billions of dollars. Rather than supporting countries and citizens to achieve their goals, extractive revenues have been diverted away for personal use and have contributed to a worsening of human rights and democracy.

Hidden companies are often the vehicle of choice for channeling illicit gains from suspicious, corrupt, or criminal deals in the oil, gas, and mining sectors. Anonymous companies feature heavily in extractive sector scandals and corruption cases, such as the Panama Papers, the 1MBD scandal, the Luanda Leaks, and Nigeria’s Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL) 245.

However, things are changing. The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), Publish What You Pay (PWYP), and the Natural Resource Governance Initiative (NRGI) with support from oil, gas, and mining companies have pushed for a global effort to open up the extractive industries to greater scrutiny.

In 2016, a new requirement was added to the EITI Standard, mandating beneficial ownership transparency (BOT) to be implemented in the extractive sectors of its 50 plus member countries. This has the potential to transform transparency about who benefits from natural resources, and deliver substantial gains to counter corruption and increase accountability. However, implementing this requirement is technically challenging and requires ongoing political will. In order to assist EITI implementing countries achieving BOT in extractives, in 2021 the EITI and Open Ownership (OO) launched a joint programme: Opening Extractives.

Opening Extractives

Opening Extractives is an ambitious global programme catalysing transformative change in BOT in the extractives industry. By 2025, Opening Extractives will deliver clear improvements to domestic resource mobilisation from the extractives sector in up to ten countries across the globe.

The programme targets three key outcomes:

  1. Ensure government, industry, and civil society actors have greater access to comprehensive and reliable information on the ultimate owners of extractive industry companies.
  2. Enable government, industry, and civil society actors to more easily identify and address corruption and mismanagement risks related to hidden ownership.
  3. Advance BOT in the extractive industries and beyond in a post-COVID-19 context by documenting and communicating the impact and outcomes of the programme.

Opening Extractives builds on the collaboration of the EITI and OO over the last three years in delivering workshops, training, and technical assistance in a broad range of countries.