On the final day of the Trinidad and Tobago Energy Conference 2020, a workshop was held on the role that data plays in fostering a more transparent, accountable and responsible extractive sector in Trinidad and Tobago. The workshop titled ‘Can we achieve more? Using Data to Drive Change,’ took place at the Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain on February 5th 2020 and featured presentations by Omar Mohammed, CEO of the Cropper Foundation and Gregory McGuire, Chair of the Trinidad and Tobago Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (TTEITI). The workshop focused on how data can empower civil society organisations (CSO’s) and citizens for oversight of the extractive sector. It sought to bring together those who manage data systems and create policies for the sector, with those who would benefit from said policies. The objective was to identify gaps in data collection on the sector and explore opportunities to improve data capture, accessibility and use.
The extractive sector refers to the people, companies, and activities involved in removing oil, gas, minerals, metals, coal, stone, etc. from the ground.
TTEITI Chair, Gregory McGuire, engaged workshop attendees on the topic of reshaping the energy sector through big data. His presentation focused on using such data to ensure accurate revenue collection where production sharing contracts are in effect between public and private sector. Mr McGuire discussed how the TTEITI has adjusted its agenda from merely disclosing extractive sector data to assisting the government in doing so for itself. He identified a need for more reliable and real-time data to plug revenue leakages from the extractive sectors. Copies of the TTEITI report summary on extractive industry activity for 2018 – 2019 were distributed to workshop attendees revealing the extent of revenue leakage in the different industries. For example, the report stated that the government had collected only $27.3 million TTD in revenue from the mining industries, rather than the $201 million TTD that should have been collected for the period if proper monitoring systems had been implemented by the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries (MEEI).
Civil Society Has A Role To Play In Holding Public and Private Sector Accountable
The Cropper Foundation CEO, Mr Mohammed, engaged workshop attendees on the topic of analysing data to improve extractive sector governance by using NGO achievements as a case study. During his presentation, he stated that the publication and dissemination of data by civil society encourages greater accountability to citizens by governments and companies, thus leading to better collaboration and stronger partnerships. He explained how local CSO’s are now better equipped to capture, access and utilise environmental data as a result of the European Union (EU) funded initiative. ‘Enhancing Civil Society Capacity for Governance of Environmental Transparency and Accountability in T&T’s Extractive Industries’ (CSOs for Good Environmental Governance). This initiative implemented by The Cropper Foundation in collaboration with its partners Environment Tobago, Fishermen and Friends of the Sea, the Network of Rural Women Producers and the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union, seeks to enhance the capacity of Trinidad and Tobago’s civil society for governance of environmental transparency and accountability in the country’s extractive industries.
The project CSO’s for Good Environmental Governance has just entered its third and final year of implementation, where Mr Mohammed said partners will continue further work towards ensuring the environmental impact of the extractive industries is measured, monitored and used in making decisions about the future of the energy sector. To this effect, one of the key elements in the final phase of the project will spur the creation of an online platform for citizen journalists to report on the impacts of the extractive industries across T&T.
The project would see CSO representatives trained in journalisms, data driven research and content creation in order to report directly, in their own words, on the environmental impact of the extractive sector within their respective communities.
In explaining the motivation behind the initiative, Mr Mohammed reiterated that there is still a need for better collection and sharing of data related to the energy sector in order to hold governing bodies and private sector entities accountable. Additionally, he reminded workshop attendees that the inclusion of environmental data within TTEITI reporting (such as emissions data, environmental impact assessment data and resource usage), can foster more holistic and sustainable decision-making for the extractive sector in T&T. In closing, Mr Mohammed stated that, “if we are dedicated to the vision of sustainable development, we must ensure that we continue to advocate for the production and use of the best available data to make decisions about our future.
For more information on the TTEITI, visit: http://www.tteiti.org.tt
For more information on the EU-funded Action ‘CSOs for Good Environmental Governance’ visit: http://www.thecropperfoundation.org
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