Open Data: the extractive industries case study

Greater transparency is a first and necessary step in the fight against corruption. However, behind this concept of transparency, real issues of accessibility and data quality are at stake. Publishing data in itself is not enough if access is restricted and the format inoperable. To take the process of transparency all the way, this information needs to be published in an open data format making it comparable with other relevant data and easily presented. The exercise of publishing data is not an end in itself, and taking ownership of this data, analysing and
disseminating it is also an important issue for improving corporate accountability.

This case study, prepared by PWYP France with ONE, Oxfam and Sherpa ahead of the OGP Summit in December 2016, looks at the current state of payments to governments and offers recommendations for improvement.

Extractives data: how the world has changed, and what lies ahead

We’re at the OGP summit in Paris demonstrating how the flurry of extractives data we have seen in the last few years can empower people.

It remains difficult to get a full picture of company activities, due to a lack of comparable, openly available data; and an absence of certain data such as contracts. Through a multi-stakeholder panel, we intend to show how greater levels of transparency are advantageous to government, industry and citizens. We will show what can be done with the data we now have, and identify what more data is needed to make extractives industries more open.

The key question we will seek to address are:

– What does the recent wave of extractives data mean for civil society?

– What do we know now that we didn’t before?

– How can greater transparency benefit civil society, government and companies?

– How is this data being used?

– What more is needed to have a truly open extractive industry?

Join our Thunderclap!

As part of this event, we are encouraging input from the broader community on the importance of oil, gas and mining transparency, accountability, and what it means for civil society, asking our friends, fans and followers to tell us, “How do you think data can increase transparency in oil, gas and mining?”

Join our Thunderclap here


The Data Revolution

Just a few years ago, it was unthinkable that big oil, gas and mining companies would make information about their finances and operations publicly available. Now, thanks in part to the Publish What You Pay (PWYP) campaign, extractive companies and governments are publishing that information.

We run a Data Extractors Programme, a global initiative which trains participants to uncover extractives data. It creates a network of activists who can in turn share their knowledge with local communities. Our goal is to enable citizens to help ensure natural resources are managed for the benefit of society as a whole.

PWYP’s grassroots members all over the world are now using that information to uncover the stories hidden behind the data and to answer important questions about the impact of extraction – economically and socially – on local people.

5+ tools every Data Extractor needs to know

Asking why we need to use data is like asking why we fall in love or breathe. We need to use data for the simple reason that it’s available left, right and centre. As advocates, data scientists, government officials, campaigners, and ordinary citizens, we have the key to making meaningful change happen in our own communities.

However, with tons of extractive industries’ data recently made available, we sometimes find ourselves trapped and lost, not knowing what to do next. We ask ourselves (in front of the mirror, in some cases) questions like: will this data be relevant to the affected communities? What is this data trying to tell me? Where do I find this kind of extractives data? How do I organise my data project ideas?

How do I turn data into impact?

Don’t stress out. We’ve got you covered. So make some tea or coffee, sit down, forget that heartbreak and move forward.


1. Data needs to be relevant to your audience. Otherwise, your audience will take the data for granted or ignore it. When you don’t know what data your communities or audience need, you can use a data user template. It’s a simple and handy tool for your communities to fill out. It asks them what issues matter to them and helps them identify the decision-maker or key stakeholder, and the data they need the most. This makes data you want to work on relevant to your audience and their advocacy. You can download the guide, template, and case study here.


2. Data should be available and open. When you don’t know where to find data, especially extractives data, use one of the many existing open data portals out there. Trust me, there are many fish in the sea. Here’s a shortlist: – for data disclosed in EITI reports from 49 countries as of 2015.

World Bank and IMF – where you will find macro-indicators and some extractives data such as trade data, resource rent as a percentage of GDP, etc.

– For country-specific extractives data, you can check open data portals for USA, Lebanon, and Philippines.

3. Data needs to be understood and analysed. When you have loads of data to analyse, you can use Tableau Public. It’s a powerful tool but requires some time to learn. It lets you visually analyse data by dragging and dropping variables such as extractives tax payments, production and so on into a dashboard. This tool allows you to manipulate and play with data but not feelings. Those two are different.



4. Data should leave a lasting impression. When you have data but don’t know how to visualise or present it to your community, use Piktochart. It’s free to use and easy to learn. For tips on how to present data, here’s a blog they wrote. You can find a list of color combinations and a tool for fonts to combine with Canva to make designing hassle-free. Find some inspiration when you feel like making a data visualization here.

5. Data shouldn’t just be numbers. Data should never be taken for granted because it’s there for you, no matter what! When you want to turn your extractives data into impact, use the “Innovation Tool (Modified for Data Projects)”. This tool comes with seven stages and systematises the use of data for projects. The tool first asks you to identify “Opportunities and Challenges” (i.e., release of EITI reports, EU mandatory disclosures) which then sets the direction of your entire data project. In filling out the tool, remember to focus on one stage at a time – I don’t advise working on two or three stages at a time. You can download the guide and template from page 128-129 here and a case study here.

A tool which complements the innovation tool is the “Scaling up Plan (for Data Projects) Tool” in case you want to scale up your project in the future. You can find the guide and template in the same file as the Innovation Tool from page 122-123.

Data shouldn’t be overwhelming. With the right tools, data can work for different needs. I urge you to appreciate your data as if it was the last data left in the world!

Happy data use!

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Vote for our sessions at the OGP Summit

Join us in putting transparency in the extractives on the OGP Summit’s agenda by voting for the three PWYP sessions below!

Oil, gas and mining injustices – stories from the underground

Civic space restrictions and activism on natural resource governance

Space for civil society is closing around the world. In resource-rich countries, activists work in an increasingly restrictive environment and are harassed for speaking out about natural resource governance. Publish What You Pay (PWYP) and CIVICUS will present the scope and variety of the shrinking civic space around the world and how it actively undermines efforts to achieve greater transparency and accountability in the management of natural resources.

Vote here

Can extractive companies hack it? Using extractives data to hold companies & governments to account

Using newly-released company data, we will demonstrate what can be done with extractives data, and how it can be used to hold companies and governments to account. By bringing together a number of civil society activists who are working with data, and with the participation of a company which has recently reported, we want to:
Show you best practices on how we have used extractives data
Use a real-life company report to form the basis of a “hackathon”
Ask that company what they can tell us about our findings

Vote here

Extractives data: how the world has changed, and what lies ahead

This session will to demonstrate how the flurry of extractives data we have seen in the last few years can empower people. Getting a full picture of company activities remains difficult due to a lack of comparable, openly available data; and an absence of certain data such as contracts. Through a multi-stakeholder panel, we intend to show how greater levels of transparency are advantageous to government, industry and citizens. We will show what can be done with the data we now have, and identify what more data is needed to make extractives industries more open.

Vote here

Widening Transparency: Disclosing Beneficial Ownership to Curb Illicit Financial Flows in the Extractive Industries

This session will stimulate debate on the role of beneficial ownership transparency in the fight against illicit financial flows in the extractive industries. It also aims to draw a better strategy for government and civil society to collaborate in the implementation of beneficial ownership transparency and also utilization of beneficial ownership information to detect and curb illicit financial flows in the extractive industries.

Vote here

Transparency and access to information in extractive sector: Towards better social and environmental information on gas, oil and mining activities

This session will stimulate debate on the need to improve mechanisms for environmental and social disclosure relating oil, gas and mining activity, as a way of ensuring participatory decision making, human rights and the protection of land and the environment.

Vote here

The resource curse of indigenous peoples

How the transparency agenda could reverse unjust exploitation of indigenous territories

Ivan Aribalov is an Evenki reindeer herder who lives on the vast steppes of the Sakha Republic in Siberia. His grandfather herded 14,000 domesticated reindeer, which he bred for clothes and food – a job their family have been doing for generations.

When the coal industry moved in, open-pit mines destroyed many of the reindeer grazing grounds, forcing reindeer to change their grazing patterns. Today, Ivan herds a mere 4,000 reindeer and struggles to put food on the table at the end of each day. His fate is shared by 300 million other indigenous peoples who live in countries endowed with large oil, gas, mineral, hydro and timber resources from the Americas to Scandinavia, Russia and Asia.

As we celebrate the international day of the world’s indigenous peoples, we must address how indigenous peoples are robbed of their right to sustainable development, now and in the future.

Resource extraction could be a pathway to economic prosperity, but indigenous peoples rarely benefit from the revenues generated by the industry. Instead, they bear the brunt of its environmental and social impacts and remain the most impoverished populations in the world. In Ecuador, for instance, the Quechua’s ancestral land is home to the 500km trans-andean pipeline which has spilled an estimated 16.8 million gallons of oil since 1972, representing one and a half times the Exxon Valdez spill.

Indigenous peoples have historically been economically and politically marginalised. Their land tenure system is systematically challenged by nation states. They are rarely included in decisions-making processes related to the planning and monitoring of large extraction projects, let alone decisions over who should benefit from the revenues generated by these resources.

“Resource extraction could be a pathway to economic prosperity, but indigenous peoples rarely benefit from the revenues generated by the industry”

Most often, consultation is tokenistic and leads to division within communities, although a handful of successful mechanisms for natural resource co-management have been established. When indigenous leaders stand up against mega projects, the cost can be detrimental. Berta Caceres in Honduras is one of the latest casualties in a struggle that pitches unarmed communities against billion-dollar investors often backed by military or paramilitary forces.

Yet, free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) is now a well-recognized principle in international law. In theory, indigenous peoples have the right to give or withhold their consent for industrial projects that affect their traditional land and customary practices. The UN Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples reinforces this principle, stating the need to meaningfully consult indigenous peoples prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands.

States also need to provide effective redress mechanisms to mitigate adverse environmental, economic, social or cultural impact. ILO Convention 169, which predates the UN Declaration, also guarantees the rights of indigenous peoples to exert control over their land and resources.

Unfortunately, but perhaps not surprisingly, many resource-rich countries with large indigenous populations have refrained from ratifying the Convention, including the US, Canada, Australia, Russia, Sweden, Finland, and the Philippines.

Interestingly, some of these same countries (US, Canada, the Philippines) are engaging in a number of mandatory and/or voluntary disclosure initiatives focused on the extractive sector. Acknowledging that this sector is more prone to large-scale corruption, these initiatives promote payment transparency, foster corporate accountability, and support financial reform.

“Transparency activists and indigenous rights activists have not been good bedfellows in the past – but this can change”

One such initiative, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), brings together representatives of civil society, governments and companies to establish and implement a transparency standard for the extractive sector. The EITI could provide a crucial opportunity for indigenous peoples to participate in decision-making processes related to natural resource extraction which affect their territories.

However, the EITI standard also lacks any reference to indigenous peoples. The EITI and its civil society constituency have failed to properly reach out to communities and represent them on its International Board. The EITI could learn from the Forest Stewardship Council, a voluntary, multi-stakeholder forest certification scheme, which developed a core principle more than 10 years ago to uphold indigenous peoples’ rights of ownership and use of land and resources.

As anti-corruption activists, it is our responsibility to reach out to indigenous peoples affected by the resource curse, to engage them in the transparency movement and effectively support their political mobilisation. Publish What You Pay and its partners need to ensure that indigenous peoples are meaningfully represented in initiatives such as the EITI.

Transparency activists and indigenous rights activists have not been good bedfellows in the past – but this can change. Once we end indigenous peoples’ chronic invisibility, people like Ivan will be able to shape the laws and processes that affect indigenous lands, rights and revenues.

Protecting civil society space is key to stopping human rights abuses

UN HRC32 (3)

New UN Human Rights Council resolution protecting civil society organisations is a step forward

The United Nations Human Rights Council (OHCHR) has adopted a resolution committing member States to create safe and enabling environments for civil society. The resolution “urges States to ensure access to justice, and accountability, and to end impunity for human rights violations and abuses against civil society actors”.

Publish What You Pay (PWYP) welcomes the adoption of this resolution as human rights abuses, especially repressions against civil society in the oil, gas, and mining sectors, are particularly ruthless. Civil society members’ freedom of expression and their right for peaceful assembly is continually threatened on a daily basis. Those challenging the extractive sector are on the frontline of repression and often face life-threatening situations in a sector with high financial stakes.

“Direct, violent attacks against activists, including those working on increasing transparency in the extractives sector, are on the rise in many resource-rich countries as are legal and judicial restrictions on their activities. PWYP is increasingly concerned about the safety and security of some of our members. Freedom of association and expression are fundamental pillars of open societies and the international community needs to ensure those rights are protected around the world. This UN resolution provides a strong framework for action by governments,” said Elisa Peter, Executive Director of PWYP.

The recent murder of Gloria Capitan, a well-known and active anti-coal leader in a province north of Manila, Philippines, emphasises the importance of civil society protection and the enforcement of human rights. Ate Glo, as she was most commonly known, was gunned down by motorcycle-riding gunmen early last week. She was very active in resisting coal stockpile and coal plants in the province of Bataan.

Political justice and civil society protection is particularly important in countries like the Philippines, which according to Global Witness is the second most dangerous place for environmental activists after Honduras. PWYP member coalitions have been subject to harassment and repression while working in countries where civic space is restricted.

Individual human rights defenders and PWYP member associations around the world have been subject to attacks, travel bans, and risk the suspension of their activities when they speak out against natural resource exploitation. PWYP Uganda for instance reported that they had had their equipment confiscated for nearly two months after trying to screen a documentary on lessons that could be learned from other resource-rich countries.

A significant instance occurred during François Hollande’s visit to Niger in July 2014 when approximately 10 activists, including Ali Idrissa, the national coordinator of the PWYP coalition, were arrested that morning. Equally, peaceful protesting near mines led to violence against protesters and even killings when the Canadian mining company Tahoe Resources’ security personnel opened fire on peaceful protesters in Guatemala in 2013.

The OHCHR resolution was signed by 31 countries, and rejected by seven, namely China, Congo, Cuba, Nigeria, Russian Federation, South Africa, and Venezuela.

To find out more about what can be done to protect activists and civil society, see the PWYP Protection Policy and the EITI Civil Society Protocol.