17 September 2020
The kind of transformative change the world needs to eliminate corruption will not happen without collaboration and genuine partnerships.
That’s the message from the BHP Foundation, who recently brought together representatives from 12 leading global organizations to learn and share how to improve the governance of natural resources across the value chain for the benefit of citizens.
The occasion was the third annual workshop for the Foundation’s Natural Resource Governance Program – and this year, it was held online over two sessions, reflecting current global travel restrictions due to COVID-19.
Keynote speaker for the sessions was the former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Chair of EITI, the Rt. Hon. Helen Clark.
Ms Clark explained that while transparency is an enabler for citizens to hold governments to account, on its own it’s not enough to address corruption. Transparency must be accompanied by governments committed to accountability and the active participation of citizens. This is made more urgent by COVID-19, which will increase the risk of corruption through the rollout of rapid economic stimulus programs and reduced capacity for citizen monitoring. She said the impact of the pandemic was that governments around the world were facing a triple crisis: strained public health systems, a sharp decline in commodity prices and abrupt economic downturns.
Fiona Avery, Program Director Natural Resource Governance at the BHP Foundation agrees and believes the solution lies in good governance which especially during a global pandemic, could be the difference between life and death.
‘Corruption impacts everyone,’ says Fiona.
‘Instead of the hundreds of billions in taxes and royalties that resources companies pay to their host governments funding health, education, infrastructure and other services that lift people in resource rich countries out of poverty, in far too many countries it does not.
‘The only way we can ensure fairer, more transparent and more accountable process from the very beginning is to set higher standards of integrity across the whole resource value chain.’
During the workshop, BHP Foundation partner Transparency International (TI) shared evidence on how improved governance in the process of awarding mining licences is contributing to reduced corruption.
In Mongolia, for example, TI is working with the government to develop new national laws that address corruption risks. While in South Africa, TI is supporting the participation of women in decision-making processes around licence approvals.
And fundamentally, that’s about improving the lives of citizens in resource rich countries.
‘By working with our partners, we have opportunities to adjust, learn, collaborate and innovate in ways that will maximise the work already being done, both individually and collectively,’ says Fiona.
‘However, this won’t happen unless governments, industry, multilateral institutions and non-government institutions work together.
Read more about BHP Foundation’s natural resource governance program.