single Category Archives transparency

It is a historic year for the Publish What You Pay (PWYP) movement, as oil and mining companies begin to issue new and newly-detailed reports on their payments to governments. The anticipated windfall of data is the result of new regulations in Europe and Canada, and similar transparency requirements are likely to come into effect soon for companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges.

As PWYP and its partners prepare to harvest this new supply of data, we are increasingly aware of the challenges on ‘the demand side’ of financial disclosures. Most financial data does not magically appear online in easy-to-find locations or easy-to-use formats. As companies become more open with their data, campaigners must become more adept at using it.

As citizens in many democracies seek greater participation in public debate, international civil society organisations (ICSOs) are seeking a new model for advocacy: one where supporters become fuller participants in priority-setting and tactics, and where leadership demonstrates accountability to those participants on an ongoing basis.

“People power”, unleashed and expedited by newer technologies, can help ICSOs scale their impact – through crowdsourcing projects, for instance, that harness the input of thousands of unconnected individuals, or through networked campaigns that disseminate not only information but also campaign leadership across hundreds of small groups and thousands of miles.

Last month, I was privileged to help lead a workshop in Harare, Zimbabwe, for activists in the Publish What You Pay coalition, focusing on how data can get citizens a better deal from their oil and mining sector.

Through the "Open Data Extractors" project, campaigners from across the global coalition learn how new laws in the EU and the US are unlocking payment data from companies that dig for oil and minerals around the world.

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