Two thirds of the world’s poorest people are living in the world’s most resource rich countries. Despite billions of revenues from the extractive industries, the majority of citizens remain poor.

Citizens are often without access to information about how much their governments earn when trading with the country’s non-renewable resources and how much the companies operating on their territory are paying to their governments, and where the money is going.

When revenue from the extractive industries is managed wisely, it can be translated into investments in a sustainable future for the common good of all citizens. Unfortunately, there are many examples in the world of the opposite.

The start of the global Publish What You Pay campaign

In December 1999 Global Witness(link is external) published a report called A Crude Awakening(link is external), an exposé of the apparent complicity of the oil and banking industries in the plundering of state assets during Angola’s 40-year civil war.

It soon became clear that the refusal to release financial information by major multinational oil companies aided and abetted the mismanagement and embezzlement of oil revenues by the elite in the country. The report concluded with a public call on the oil companies operating in Angola to ‘publish what you pay’.

The lack of transparency in the extractive industries also turned out to be a significant concern in other resource-rich, but poor, countries. Therefore, in June 2002 Global Witness(link is external) , together with other founding members, launched the worldwide PWYP campaign(link is external) , calling for all natural resource companies to disclose their payments to governments for every country of operation. This concept has become known as “country by country reporting”.

From a few, mostly UK-based groups at its launch, PWYP today mobilise and organise a network of over 600 organisations from over 50 countries. Today, most of these organisations are working in resource rich developing countries. PWYP has established national affiliated coalitions in 26 countries. In other countries we may not have established chapters, but individual member organisations 

The establishment of Publish What You Pay Norway

The Norwegian chapter of the global campaign was founded in 2006 by four organisations: The Norwegian Council for Africa(link is external) , Norwegian Church Aid(link is external) , Future in Our Hands(link is external) and Transparency International Norge(link is external)

Norway is one of very few countries in the world that has been able to manage its natural resources in a way that benefits the common good of its citizens. Because of its experiences in commercial interest and ambitions for international development, Norway should be well positioned to take a lead in the work for increased transparency and accountability in the extractive sector. This has been a key working area for PWYP in Norway.

In 2006, the founders of PWYP Norway established themselves as an interim steering group in order to launch the campaign nationally. One main event at the time was the 4th Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) conference, held in Oslo on October 16th-17th, 2006. The conference gathered more than 500 decision makers, private sector leaders and civil society organisations from all over the world. PWYP Norway secured civil society participation in the event and hosted an international strategy meeting for the global Publish What You Pay coalition on October 18th – 19th; coinciding with the EITI conference. 

From that point onwards, the Norwegian coalition has grown and developed. Today, 16 Norwegian organisations have joined the coalition and the Publish What You Pay Norway campaign.

From 2006 to 2011 the secretariat was hosted by member organisations; first Future in Our Hands(link is external)and later Norwegian Church Aid(link is external) Since October 2011 the PWYP Norway-secretariate has had separate offices in Brugata 1, Oslo. 

How has the global PWYP campaign’s scope and objectives evolved since its launch?

The success of Publish What You Pay, we believe, is connected to its very focused and narrow scope. PWYP’s calls for companies to “publish what you pay” and for governments to “publish what you earn” was a necessary first step towards a more accountable system for the management of natural resources revenues. 

However it is impossible to ensure proper management of natural resource wealth by looking exclusively at revenues. PWYP members therefore decided also to call for transparent and accountable management of expenditures of public funds. Citizens need to be able to follow the money and in a democratic process addressing how the revenues are being spent. This is the campaign’s “publish what you spend” objective.

Lately, a further call has been raised in PWYP for the public disclosure of extractive industry contracts and for licensing procedures to be carried out transparently in line with best international practices. This is the campaign’s “publish what you should have been paying/ publish what you didn’t pay”.

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