There are two types of disclosures. One is disclosure for the sake of transparency, while the other is disclosure that actually works for the people it is intended to help. Ensuring the latter is the philosophy Bantay Kita has applied to its engagement with natural resources data.
When the Philippine's Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (PHEITI) Country Report was first published in 2014, an incredible amount of data was made available to the public. As a civil society representative to the PHEITI Multi Stakeholder Group, Bantay Kita was tasked with making sure that the data was used to facilitate greater accountability.
On July 2016, Bantay Kita soft launched its DATA Portal - short for Demanding Action, Transparency, and Accountability Portal. The portal was conceptualized in Jakarta, Indonesia during the first Publish What You Pay Data Extractors Program workshop, and later brought to life in the second Data Extractors workshop in Harare, Zimbabwe.
How much did it cost? $0
What programming language was used? I'm not even sure - I don't know a single one.
How long did it take to make the prototype? Minus the snack breaks and random Facebook checking, about four hours.
All it really took was some creativity and a handful of free web tools, which can be learned by users in 1 to 6 hours, depending on the person’s willingness to learn.
The DATA Portal is community-targeted, hence it uses project-level, provincial and regional data related to oil, gas and mining extraction. Data was analyzed from the Philippine EITI Country Report and other sources, such as the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.
The portal includes data for all 18 administrative regions in the Philippines. Each "Regional Page" has subpages for its Extractive Projects Database, News about Extractives, and Extractives Statistics. On top of this, there are "Company Pages" where data for individual projects can be found, such as production numbers, government payments, employee demographics, social and environmental spending, community demographics, poverty incidence, transparency measure, and so on.
There are digital metric tons of data available on extractives, but not all are relevant to specific communities. Since our soft launching in July, we have been traveling the Philippines to conduct open data workshops and collect locally translated versions of "data user templates." We ask local CSOs to fill them out, with a specific advocacy goal they are working on in mind, and ask what kind of data would best help them to influence decision makers and other stakeholders to support their advocacy goal. This makes the data we produce not only specific to a certain community, but also relevant to them.
What's quite unique about the DATA Portal is that it's not simply a box full of big datasets and tables of data, but rather data visualizations and infographics to make the information easier to understand. This makes the the numbers less intimidating (especially for those traumatized by college algebra).
The next step for the DATA Portal is to make Action and Accountability happen. To that end, we hope to begin to provide communities with quarterly data - production and sales - disclosed by extractive companies through SMS. Since most taxes and royalties are based on sales, this information will enable local communities to estimate what subnational transfers from mining activities their communities should receive, and thus enable them to plan for the following year. This information can also be used by indigenous peoples’ organizations that receive royalties. Though schedule of payments can vary, at a minimum these disclosures will allow communities to validate the accuracy of the received funds.
Making a difference takes more than making data open. Stakeholders need to make these disclosures relevant to communities to actually make an impact. Through our DATA Portal, Bantay Kita hopes to do just that.
Marco Zaplan is the Research and Communications Officer for Bantay Kita. Follow him @zaplanmarco
By Jana Morgan, Director, Publish What You Pay - United States
This post originally appeared on the 2016 International Open Data Conference blog on October 5, 2016
2016 is an historic year for transparency advocates and data geeks alike.
After fourteen years of campaigning by the global Publish What You Pay (PWYP) coalition, laws requiring oil, gas and mining companies to publicly disclose project-level payments to governments for access to natural resources are now in force in over 30 countries. This means we will know how much each covered company paid in royalties, taxes, fees, and other vital information for every project in every country of operation.
Too often, natural resource wealth has served to enrich corrupt corporate execs and political elites, while the owners of those natural resources - citizens - have been left footing the bill for environmental destruction, community displacements, and lost economic opportunities. These reports present a treasure trove of information for advocacy groups, data scientists, journalists and citizens. Now, they can dig deep into oil, gas and mining data that was previously shrouded in secrecy.
In fact, some of the world’s largest extractive companies either listed or incorporated in the European Union, like Shell (UK), BP (UK), Total (France), Statoil (Norway) and Rio Tinto (UK), have already published their first reports. We can expect reporting from Canadian listed/incorporated companies in 2017; with the bulk of US-listed company reports disclosed in 2019.
Transparency advocates are beginning the hard work of sifting through this newly released data, and have already begun asking important questions like:
At Publish What You Pay – United States (PWYP-US), we launched a website in June – Extract-A-Fact – with the intention of empowering citizens, activists and journalists to harness oil, gas, and mining data and use it as a tool to demand accountability from governments and extractive companies. Extract-A-Fact does this by providing training modules detailing useful and creative ways to find, analyze, and visualize extractives data, as well as blog posts from PWYP-US and our partners as we dig deeper into oil, gas, and mining sector data to answer questions critical to communities impacted by natural resources.
Over the past year, other important initiatives and tools have sprung up across the globe:
These new initiatives are already empowering activists to demand accountability for how their country’s natural resources are managed. But civil society groups are not the only actors who recognize the importance of these disclosures. Recently, the law firm Holland & Knight (citing research done by a PWYP Data Extractor) wrote that payment transparency could lead to increased voluntary Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) disclosures, aid law-enforcement officials in investigating possible FCPA violations, and have a deterrent effect on corruption.
This new era in extractives transparency is why I am so excited for IODC 2016. If you believe that a country’s natural resources belong to the citizens who live there, and that profits made from those resources should be used to benefit those people, rather than swell the pockets of corrupt government officials and shady executives – let’s talk. I want to work with you to brainstorm ways we can fight corruption by translating this data into accountability.
Interested to know more? Follow us on twitter - @pwypusa @janalmorgan @pwyptweets #ExtractAFact #NoSecretDeals
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