event Published at: 2015-11-03

A thorough Asia Pacific Knowledge Hub training course on “Improving the Governance for Extractive Industries has just completed. In two week, from 19 October to 31 October, participants were endorsed to relate knowledge from the sessions to their professional roles in their home setting through sustained debates and policy workshop. Twenty-seven participants from eight countries, including Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Timor Leste, Dominica Republic, Tunisia, Germany, and United Kingdom, were taking a part on this batch 3 training.

It was trying session since the divers background of the participants who compound from policy makers, actors of civil society organizations, journalist and other innovative agents of change. They were coming to learn from the experts as well as share knowledge and experiences of extractive industries governance in respective countries. Indonesia and Myanmar took the biggest number of the group of participants. An ongoing task for the course design was responding the variation among the countries characterized by participants.

Thomas Aquino Rapak, a participant from Indonesia thought that the course was relevant with his contribution in Justice, Peace, and Integrity for Creation (JPIC-SVD), an NGO in East Nusa Tenggara Province. He works a lot with local people in in terms of empowering community and advocacy. He believed that new assessment skills he obtained from the course will conform to the local need. “As far as I know, an extractive sector, especially in my district does not manage well. There is lack coordination among levels of government and, yet, minimum transparency and accountability. I will implement environment impact assessment as well as free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) through building local, national, and international networking.” Thomas said.

Transparency and accountability issue was also emphasized by Ni Ni Winn, a participant who works for Myanmar Alliance for Transparency and Accountability (MATA). Winn articulated, “This training is very useful for CSO actor at ground level to monitor contract beneficial ownership, have discussion about concession and its consequences. I found better smooth successful recommendation for next process T&A. I would highlight also how government manages well revenue management system, as we are facing transition of democracy in Myanmar.”


Critical issue

The complete training structure addressed five major topics of interest, including Socio-Environmental Impact, Getting a Good Deal & Fiscal Regime, Managing Revenue, Standard and Practices in Public Participation (Case of EITI), and Coalition for Reform.

Purwo Santoso, professor of Politics and Government in Universitas Gadjah Mada delivered the standard and practices in public participation on managing the impact of extractive activities. He underlined the adjustment of socio-environmental assessment (SEA) on the decision chain before the country decides the project. In complement with the SEA instrument, Dean of the Ateneo School of Government Antonio G. M. La Viña introduced Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) and Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) as part of the instruments to assess whether or not people decide the projects.

Transparency and accountability is the critical issue to address “resource curse”. Participants put building the trust into consideration. This issue triggered intense discussion at Standard and Practices in Public Participation session. Hence, Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) scheme emerged hope for better governance in extractive sectors.

Yoga Wiandi Akbar, an Indonesian participants works at State Ministry of National Development Planning highlighted that government need trust to get support from the people. “As in the government side, I realize that government need trust regardless the power we have. Activists only see the spending aspects and demanding for the transparency, “Yoga shared to class.

Luis Diaz, a participant works at private sectors in Dominican Republic, shared the comparable opinion. “Private sector wants to see what happen to the revenue they provide for state. People need to believe that the life changing after the mining activity. Civil society has power to push developing good public services for the future. And EITI ensure this needs.” Luis said.


Beyond Transparency

Establishing the effective monitoring system in nation state level became one of the vivid discussions during the managing revenue session. As the global norm burgeoned in democratic countries, EITI nowadays put deliberate power by open data source that gives evidence linking to the very basic argument. However, this scheme is not enough, to bring multi-stakeholders together to monitor and protect indigenous people and local community. Numerous victims of the indigenous people in some places indicate the vulnerability of these local communities to whole extractive practices.

In responding to this problem, National Coordinator of Bantay Kita Philippines Cielo Magno emphasized, “And again, in many countries EITI has power to give information. It doesn’t solve your problem, but give you evidences, linking to your argument.  The key is the capacity and the instruments for government to monitor and protect indigenous people and local community,” Cielo led the class discussion. She also acts as a member of the Global Steering Committee of Publish What You Pay (PWYP) representing Asia Pacific.

The lack of capacity reflected in the CSO’s fragmented performance in their work. Ahmad Choirudin, a participant works for Indonesian Society for Social Transformation (Insist) shared his idea about this problematical situation. According to his opinion, Asia Pacific Knowledge Hub as international forum brings advantages to enhance coalition for reform.

“There is an initiative for FPIC that comply with public participation in the ground area. There are CSOs working on this issue but they work in their own sectors. Hence, we need the network from the technical perspective, economist, geologist and environmentalist. This training gives multi perspectives and ideas. We get divers insight of aspects as well as how to understand technical things such as contract terms, fiscal regime. Regardless times constraint, the training encourages us to develop knowledge by our selves based on our context and experiences.” Udin said.

At the end of the series of training, Program Director of Asia Pacific Knowledge Hub Purwo Santoso emphasized the important of the policy-advocacy network at countries level.

“I do hope this training is ideal and more beneficial to the public in the respective countries. Certainly, we have challenge in our networking, in the day to day engagement.  We are not providing to mobilize people. We do need to intense with context, motivate people to involve together in the networking and seeking for the long term strategy.” Purwo told to the forum. (isw)