Launched in June 2002 by an assortment of non-government organizations concerned with environmental, social, and corporate governance issues, Publish What You Pay (PWYP) has evolved from a small group of NGOs based primarily in the United Kingdom into a “global network of civil society organizations that are united in their call for oil, gas, and mining revenues to form the basis for development and improve the lives of citizens in resource-rich countries.” With over 650 affiliates world-wide, over the past decade PWYP has extended its reach and influence to every corner of the globe, using “public campaigns and policy advocacy” to raise awareness about the “proper management of natural resources” and to promote increased corporate transparency in the resource sector.
The original founding members of the PWYP project include household names in business ethics and transparency: Global Witness, the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD), the Open Society Institute, Oxfam Great Britain, Save the Children UK, and Transparency International UK. With generous funding from these (and other) organizations over the past decade, it is no surprise that PWYP has experienced burgeoning growth and unrivalled success in pursuing its objectives of bringing corporations to the table in order to hold them accountable in their resource extraction activities.
PWYP’s global structure since its inception has been one that encourages participation across all segments of civil society, encompassing executives, professionals, policymakers, academics, students, and global citizens by extension. In September 2012, the governance structure of PWYP underwent an extensive reconfiguration following a year of consultations and deliberations within the NGO and amongst its affiliates, with a new governance framework formally adopted at the PWYP International Conference that same month. Today, PWYP’s executive oversight occurs through the work and collaboration of three organs, the PWYP International Coalition Strategy Meeting, the PWYP Global Steering Committee, and PWYP Patrons.
Within Canada, PWYP was launched in March 2008 “by seven Canadian civil society organizations supporting the global campaign to increase transparency [in]the extractive sector,” following in the footsteps of the founding charter of PWYP International. With more than 1600 mining company stocks listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, and a vast territory brimming with natural resources, it was a foregone conclusion that a Canadian branch of PWYP would soon come to fruition. Today, PWYP Canada is an active participant in the global PWYP network, bringing together stakeholders across a large swath of Canadian civil society including “parliamentarians, government officials, regulators, industry, academics, and civil society organizations.” The determination of PWYP to fulfill its organizational objectives is exemplified by its successful development and launching of the Canadian Extractive Resource Revenue Transparency Working Group this past September, in conjunction with other firms and institutions involved in the Canadian extractives sector.
Following closely in the model of PWYP’s global mandate, PWYP Canada seeks to pursue its main objective of increasing transparency and combating corruption in the extractives sector through the application of three core initiatives – “the mandatory disclosure of payments made by oil, mining, and gas companies to host governments, on a disaggregated and project-by-project level”; the “implementation of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) in Canada”; and through the “disclosure of all contracts, licenses, and lease agreements in the oil, mining, and gas sector.” PWYP uses two main methods to realize its objectives on the world stage: advocacy vis-à-vis regulations, institutions, government agencies, corporations, investors, and capacity-building through collaboration “with local and international actors to organize training workshops, conferences, and seminars to help meet these needs.”
Despite the herculean challenge of attaining full transparency in the resource extractives sector on the international level, PWYP has nevertheless made great headway in encouraging government transparency in the industry. As the main engine behind the drive for financial transparency in the world of extractives, PWYP is uniquely positioned with its expansive international network and golden reputation to further facilitate the implementation new regulations and procedures across the globe. We can only hope that PWYP’s efforts will not only promote transparency in this sector, but that this organization’s endeavours will hopefully contribute to a more ethical business practices in the corporate world on the whole.