Just a few years ago, it was unthinkable that big oil, gas and mining companies would make information about their finances and operations publicly available. Now, thanks in part to the Publish What You Pay (PWYP) coalition, extractive companies and governments are publishing that information.

PWYP’s grassroots members all over the world are now using that information to uncover the stories hidden behind the data and to answer important questions about the impacts of extraction – economically and socially – on local people.

What data?

Laws in Canada, the EU, Norway and the US require oil, mining and gas companies listed or headquartered in those jurisdictions to publish their payments for every level of government for every project and in every country in which they operate. Before too long we expect to see similar reports from companies listed in Switzerland and Ukraine. As a result, there has been a huge increase in the number of detailed company reports that are publicly available. In addition, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is a voluntary, multi stakeholder initiative that produces a wealth of information related to oil, gas and mineral production, licences, payment and other extractive revenues.

Yet most of this information is complex, hard to find and often far removed from local contexts. By making data easier to understand, it is possible to find discrepancies and to get a clearer picture of which extractive deals are in place. This data can be used to question governments on how resource revenues are used and why companies pay varying amounts for different projects. Crucial information, communicated in a number of formats, such as maps, infographics and graphs, can be shared with communities affected by extractive activities so that they have a better understanding of the role natural resources play.

How is PWYP using the data?

We run a year-long programme called the “Data Extractors”, training PWYP members and allies from around the world – from countries where extractive companies are subject to mandatory disclosure laws, and from countries where those companies have projects. Over the course of a year the PWYP Data Extractors will be working with each other to use the data through peer learning, twinning approaches, mentoring, workshops and case studies that will benefit the national PWYP coalitions.

Find out more about the programme by clicking here.

In 2017, PWYP’s data work has expanded to Francophone Africa where we are collaborating with School of Data via their Data Fellowship programme. A data fellow was recruited in May to help build a data culture among PWYP’s coalition members in Ivory Coast and Senegal. The fellow is based on Abidjan and, following consultation with the coalition to understand what data analysis can best support their advocacy agenda, he is currently focused on a detailed analysis of the country’s EITI reports.

What is Open Data?

Open data and content can be freely used, modified, and shared by anyone for any purpose Source: OpenDefinition.

PWYP has an open data position for its coalitions to use and encourages its partners in civil society, local and national government, and other sectors to do the same. You can find the position here.

Work with us to uncover the stories hidden behind extractives data! Email us at data@publishwhatyoupay.org