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Report from Natural Resource Charter annual technical workshop, Oxford, June 2011
The Natural Resource Charter (NRC) annual technical workshop took place over two days in Oxford at the end of June. This meeting saw over 100 experts and practitioners come together to discuss, debate and consider updates to the technical guidance and best practice recommendations contained within the Charter. In addition the workshop saw discussion of future NRC activities, including the move towards operationalizing the Charter. Sessions covered discussion around developing and making available the Charter as a benchmarking methodology for use in resource rich countries, to help in diagnosing issues across the entire decision chain. Other sessions examined the role of industry partnerships- both their importance on the ground, but also their position in the NRC recommendations, and the role of the Charter as an advocacy tool to support the creation of an international enabling environment for strengthened resource governance.
The workshop plenary sessions saw presentations on the challenges and opportunities presented by resource wealth. The recent experiences of Chile, presented by Prof Andres Velasco, former Chilean Minister of Finance and member of the Charter’s Technical Advisory Group, served as a valuable insight into the role of fiscal rules in restraining and guiding economic decisions around the uses of resource revenues (a key issue discussed in the Charter).
The workshop also heard from a panel comprising the Rt. Hon. Clare Short, Chair of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), Professor Mthuli Ncube, Chief Economist of the African Development Bank, Minister Shahrani, Afghan Minister of Mines, and Professor Paul Collier, Director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies. This panel highlighted the value-added the Charter has already delivered – such as in Afghanistan where it has served as a constant reference point to the Ministry in developing the country’s mineral codes and legislation. The panel also discussed the path ahead. Clare Short emphasised the complementarities between the work of EITI and NRC, and opportunities for successes in the extractives transparency agenda to serve as a springboard for tackling governance challenges across the decision chain.
Looking forwards, the adoption of the Charter by the African Union’s NEPAD, and endorsement by the African Development Bank, will serve as a catalyst for Charter work at the country level, to support actions by governments and societies. This will include the development and piloting of the Charter as a benchmarking methodology in several countries. The Facility for Oil Sector Transparency (FOSTER) program in Nigeria is already preparing to employ the Charter framework as a benchmarking exercise. At the international level, the Charter will be seeking to support actions by the international community, including banks and capital centres, to create an enabling environment for strengthened resource governance.