Lord Ahmad adds support to the transparency agenda, including EITI, in a statement at the Open Government Partnership 2020 Virtual Leaders Summit

Mining & Quarrying / Oil & Gas
Photograph of Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

At the recent Open Government Partnership 2020 Virtual Leaders summit, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Minister for South Asia and the Commonwealth at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) made a statement in support of open government and transparency. The statement made explicit reference to EITI and the important role civil society has to play in the transparency agenda, particularly with the current challenges and threats of increased corruption in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lord Ahmad’s statement can be seen at approximate 1 hour 50 minutes into this video link.

A copy of the full transcript of the statement is below:

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth, United Kingdom Statement:

The UK is proud to be a founding member of the Open Government Partnership. The Partnership has a lot to be proud of, having advanced over 4000 specific reforms to enhance democracy and tackle corruption.

But huge challenges remain:

  • Democracy is under pressure around the world with an increasing number of people living under autocratic rule.
  • COVID has caused a further clamp down on freedoms, and clipped the wings of many institutions that support democracy, particularly independent media organisations.  
  • And the vast sums committed to tackling the economic fallout of fighting the pandemic have presented a potential treasure chest for the corrupt. The global community must do all it can to ensure transparency is embedded in every country’s responses to the virus. That is why I applaud and endorse the Open Government Partnership campaign for an ‘Open Response and Open Recovery’.

Throughout the pandemic, the UK has continued to support international partners doing great work in support of transparency; such as the Open Contracting Partnership, Open Ownership, Transparency International, and the Extraction Industries Transparency Initiative.

We continue to support civil society, and we have prioritised independent media in developing countries for support from our international development programmes.

Looking forward, I think there are three things that those of us who value transparency need to prioritise in our work together:

  1. We need to hold countries to account for the commitments to openness and transparency in the use of COVID funds. We continue to echo the IMF’s call to “spend what it takes but keep the receipts.”
  2. We need to embed transparency and accountability throughout the ‘building back better’ agenda. Unless we do so, the recovery will be used by those with ill intentions to create an environment for corruption and poor governance.
  3. We also need to support civil society and independent media organisations so that they can play their rightful role as auditors of government actions and spending.

I want to see democracies doing more together to stand up for our shared values and fundamental freedoms, investing in the institutions that underpin democracy – certainly we will use our G7 and COP26 Presidency to do that, working together through platforms like the Open Government Partnership, and with countries across the globe to strengthen open societies.

The work of the Open Government Partnership has never been as important as it is today. COVID presents us with an enormous challenge, but also an opportunity to deliver upon the mandate that we set ourselves nearly 10 years ago. I believe we can rise to this challenge if we, the 78 nations within the Partnership, work together.