The extractive industries sector: an opportunity for development
The oil, gas and mining sectors contribute significantly to government revenues, GDP and export in resource-rich countries. Despite this opportunity for development, many resource-rich countries fail to use the extractive industries sector for wider economic and social development, resulting in higher poverty rates and, in some instances conflict. This is sometimes referred to as the 'resource curse'.
Parliaments can play an important role in improving governance of the extractive industries sector. Its three core functions – representing constituent interests, legislating, and overseeing the executive branch – are crucial to improving the governance and management of resources. This is because legislators are responsible for ensuring that the government allocates revenue appropriately, for scrutinising the government's collection and expenditure of revenue, and for implementing legislation and policies. Additionally, parliament holds the 'power of the purse' (control over public expenditures), giving it the authority to review, amend and authorise national budgets.
The Extractive Industries Portal
Today’s MPs are confronted with a strong international push for transparency and sustainable development. They also face an increasingly organized and vocal civil society that uses a range of new technologies to hold them to account. Moreover, they are asked to support the exploitation of natural resources, while at the same time being called upon to protect the climate.
The aim of this Portal is to strengthen parliamentary work on extractive industries by informing, engaging and connecting all relevant actors. To do so, the Portal will help identify best practices and parliamentary action points for parliamentarians, parliamentary staff, practitioners, government officials and civil society. The overarching objective is to help bring parliament to the fore of these political processes, and arrive at transparent, responsible and sustainable governance of the natural resource sector.
Developed with the support of the World Bank Group, the Portal is available in English, French and Arabic and will soon launch in Portuguese. It is built around four thematic areas:
1) parliamentary action: This section focuses on parliament’s three key functions of law-making, representation, and oversight and budgeting. It explores what concrete steps parliaments can take to strengthen extractive industries governance.
2) citizen engagement: Citizen engagement strategies aim to connect parliaments with the people they represent. They do so with the aim of positioning parliament to deliver more informed, effective and responsive policies, and to better carry out its oversight function.
3) transparency & open data: Increased transparency across the entire value chain is critical to improved governance of the extractive industries sector. This section will explore a range of issues pertaining to transparency and anti-corruption, including the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and the growing number of ‘open data’ initiatives.
4) natural resource funds: With regard to natural resource funds (NRFs), parliament has a very important role to play that goes well beyond its task of overseeing the government. This section will review not just the regulations that govern NRFs, but the role of parliament in the political processes that shape those decisions.
These four issue areas cater for the changing needs of parliamentarians by providing information, resources and action points relevant to their daily work.
For comments and questions, please contact the AGORA team at firstname.lastname@example.org.