Leveraging Transparency to Reduce Corruption in the Natural Resource Industries

Thanks to widespread corruption and abuse of public resources, revenues generated from natural resource extraction doesn’t always translate into investments in health, education and nutrition in low- and middle-income countries. R4D’s research will shed light on how transparency, accountability and civic engagement and participation can ensure that domestic natural resources fuel human development outcomes.

The Challenge

Corruption and bribery are among the most profound challenges we face globally. These ills diminish public confidence in government and public institutions, weaken economies, threaten sustainable development, and ultimately reduce quality of life for billions of people around the world. This is especially damaging when billions of dollars in revenue from natural resource industries (including oil, gas and mining) that have been promised to health, education and development programs in low- and middle-income countries disappear due to entrenched corruption and mismanagement. Among the tools that have evolved to address corruption and bribery in recent decades are a vast variety of initiatives that strengthen transparency, accountability, and citizen participation

The Opportunity

In partnership with the Brookings Institution and the Natural Resource Governance Institute, R4D will be tackling the questions of whether open governance reforms can reduce corruption and ultimately improve health and education outcomes. This critical analysis will be the first of its kind to fill multiple major gaps in our knowledge of what works in open governance in the natural resource industries and to provide actionable evidence to governments, civil society, and the private sector as to how to reduce corruption in fraught political contexts. As the open governance movement transitions out of its early days, it is critical that those advocating for greater transparency and accountability in the natural resource sector have the data to back their claims that open governance is key to reducing corruption, and to ultimately improving the livelihoods of people in resource-rich and poverty-stricken countries.

Our Work

Beginning in late 2017, we will undertake a five-year research initiative to establish and promote evidence-based best practices in transparency, accountability and participation mechanisms across the natural resource value chain. We will rigorously review the existing evidence and map the gaps in our knowledge of what does and does not work; develop and share an intervention framework and foundational paper on the state of play in open governance of natural resources; and partner with governments, civil society organizations and industry players in resource-rich countries to meticulously experiment with and evaluate specific promising transparency, accountability, and participation reforms.

The ultimate goal of this initiative is to position government officials, civil society and the private sector to own and leverage concrete evidence regarding how and in what contexts open governance reforms can reduce natural resource corruption and ultimately ensure that domestic funding is being delivered to programs that improve the wellbeing of people living in those countries.

Fostering Digital Communities

We create and support global communities of innovators, funders and policymakers for continuous and iterative learning, knowledge generation, exchange and collaboration. Click on the logos below to explore our communities: