On 5th and 6th December 2012, Publish What You Pay hosted a workshop for the MENA region, in Beirut.
Auspiciously perhaps, the workshop took place as Lebanon was in in the midst of setting up its energy sector and was launching bids for offshore exploration licenses. Indeed, for many countries in the region – whether because of new regimes, new discoveries or simply a new motivation for change – it seems an opportune time to campaign for transparency and accountability in the extractive sector. The natural resources in the region – and their potential to improve the lives of millions and in doing so create a better investment climate – are plenty, but it is only with genuine accountability that change can be delivered.
While civil society activism on this issue in the region is itself not new, PWYP’s involvement is relatively recent (although both Yemen and Iraq have had PWYP members for some time.) This workshop was the second time all members had met on a regional basis, the first being in September 2012 in Amsterdam. Since last year, with the addition of a MENA/Iraq coordinator to the PWYP Secretariat, regional collaboration between PWYP members has been growing.
Participants came from countries all across the MENA region – including EITI implementing countries such as Iraq and Yemen as well as Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Libya and Tunisia. H.E. the Ambassador of Great Britain, Thomas Fletcher, gave the opening speech and highlighted the importance of following a more transparent path when dealing with EI sectors around the globe.
The central aim of this workshop was to support participants in setting their strategic priorities and developing their national action plans. A subsequent MENA workshop in February 2013 will build on this work, providing capacity building in certain areas and discussing the implementation of the above plans. Participants also integrated their strategies with Publish What You Pay’s wider Vision 20/20.
We’d like to thank the British and Norwegian embassies for their support in the region.