New e-Learning Course: Parliaments, SAI and the Oversight of Extractive Industries

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Our e-Learning course on strong oversight of extractive industries is now available on AGORA. The course has been developed in collaboration with the Project for strengthening technical and functional skills of Supreme Audit Institutions, National Parliaments and Civil Society for the control of public finances in the PALOP and Timor-Leste (Pro PALOP-TL SAI). The project is fully funded by the European Union and managed directly by UNDP.
 
Extractive industries: a double-edged sword
Extractive industries can have major impacts on sustainable development in resource-rich countries, including their achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The oil, gas and mining sectors contribute significantly to government revenues, providing critical economic development opportunities; they can boost economic growth and create opportunities for people, including increased employment, access to revenues, and expanded investment in the local community. Low value minerals can also contribute significantly to local economic development, especially in terms of job creation.
 
This said, despite such prospects for development, experience shows that the high-value extractive industries sector (including large-scale mining of energy minerals and metals as well as small-scale mining of export commodities) often contributes to higher poverty rates, corruption and even conflict. In many countries, the abundance of natural resources such as oil, gas and minerals has had far-reaching negative impacts on the economy, failed to reduce poverty and boost economic growth, worsened inequalities, and resulted in undemocratic practices. Collectively, such negative impacts are known as the “resource curse”.
 
When natural resources are not governed by strong, transparent and accountable institutions, large, unregulated revenue flow to the government is likely to support large-scale corruption, with policy makers delivering short term solutions to social and economic problems in return for own economic gain. For natural resources to be used effectively and for development purposes, governments, their donor partners, parliaments, multinational corporations, media and civil society can work together to design inclusive, transparent and accountable natural resources management strategies with adequate risk-management measures.
 
Strong public financial management key to managing extractives 
 
Critical to the management of oil, gas and mining revenues in resource-rich countries is a public financial management system in which budgetary allocations and expenditures are open and transparent. Such revenues are typically managed through dedicated natural resource funds (NRFs). These funds have often been poorly managed: a lack of accountability and transparency can result in unlawful use of public resources, corruption and wasteful spending. Stronger synergies between government and oversight actors including parliament and SAIs with support from civil society, are key to improving the management of NRFs and the extractives sector in general. 
 
The course
 
What you will learn: Extractive industries can be a powerful driver of economic growth, but the extraction of non-renewable resources from the earth is linked to considerable political and economic risks. This course explores how parliaments, Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) and civil society organisations (CSOs) can promote inclusive, transparent and accountable natural resources management strategies with adequate risk-management measures. It combines thematic expertise with global best-practices to provide parliamentarians and other oversight actors including SAI and civil society with a toolset for the transparent, independent and accountable management of extractive projects. 
 
How: The course is organised according to the stages of the extractive industry value chain; from the initial decision to extract a resource, to ensuring the fairness of contracts with the private sector, to establishing fiscal and legal framework and, finally, to overseeing that revenue from extractive industries is are well spent and equitably shared, acting as a catalyst for sustainable growth. The final part looks at sustainable practices in the extractives sector.
To support the learning process, this course uses animations, video presentations and interactive review points. For those looking to specialize further, additional resources, including reading materials, knowledge platforms and online tools, are available. 
 
For whom: This course is suitable for parliaments, supreme audit institutions and civil society but is also a valuable resource for practitioners and students.
 
Certification
Upon completing the course, it is possible to obtain a personalised certificate by taking the test. It consists of multiple choice and true/false questions. To pass, test-takers must correctly answer at least 80% of the questions. It is possible to take the test multiple times.
 
If you're interested in taking the course, please sign up here.
 
For questions and comments, please contact the AGORA support service at elearning@agora-parl.org.