Energy Transition and Promoting Gender Equality this Year’s Top Advocacy Campaign Priorities

The Publish What You Pay (PWYP) MENA Regional Meeting for 2023 was conducted over Zoom, and was attended by 67 participants (39 men and 28 women), who were members and national coordinators from the four coalitions of Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon and Tunisia, in addition to members from Libya and Kuwait.
Among other attendees were participants from Bahrain, Morocco, and international energy-sector organizations, including the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) and the Open Government Partnership (OGP).

The meeting’s opening remarks were delivered by MENA Senior Regional Coordinator Pierre Saade, who presented the agenda and introduced the participants to PWYP’s upcoming events for 2023.
Saade noted that “the aim of this year’s meeting is to showcase the coalitions’ key achievements and lessons learned over the past years, and to discuss the latest developments in the energy sector in terms of the transition to renewable and clean energy towards the gradual phasing out of fossil fuels, as well as to examine challenges, opportunities and recent EITI Standard updates.”

The PWYP Secretariat’s Director of Member Engagement Stephanie Rochford spoke of the economic and socio-political challenges and pressures that the region is experiencing, affirming that “this year’s two priorities are the energy transition and promoting gender equality in movements and campaigns.”

Global Council MENA representative Nuralhuda Hassan, observed that PWYP will be emphasizing two important areas for its alliances: gender policy and the energy transition.
She explained that, in terms of gender policy, “in 2022, PWYP adopted the first-ever global policy for gender equality, aiming to identify gender champions, and is working on implementing this policy in national alliances.” The energy transition, she said, was “a very complicated topic, especially in countries with oil-generated revenues. But the aim is to lay the cornerstone and educate the youth on the importance of sustainability and civil space’s impact on community needs.”

Participants addressed a range of topics, notably:

– The Iraqi Coalition touched on working to promote transparency and to combat corruption in the oil, gas and mineral resources industry, and its push to pressure the government which was attempting to cut back the number of civil society organizations (CSOs) on the EITI MSG.

– The Yemeni Coalition reviewed its most prominent accomplishment in recent years, namely the development of regulations for the creation and organization of the Yemen EITI MSG.

– The Tunisia Coalition shared its leading experience with the study that it developed on publishing hydrocarbon contracts, transparency in the award of licenses, exploration and bidding, and the data that should be disclosed.

– The Lebanese Coalition discussed the frameworks for expanding the scope of communication with MENA coalitions, and working on a project, funded over 3 years, for the inclusion of youths from Lebanese universities in the areas of EI and natural resources, in which they developed studies on the topic and conducted advocacy campaigns.

The Energy Transition
Energy expert and Dean of the School of Engineering at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK) Joseph Al Assad delivered a session titled “Energy Transition in the MENA Region: Initiative, Challenges, Opportunities and Impacts”, which addressed the importance of the energy transition, its current status in the region, and how to ensure a just transition, especially against the continuous advance of climate change and the climate impacts of fossil fuel
It is worth mentioning that the energy transition has become a focal point for PWYP, and a task group, consisting of the different MENA coalitions and members, was created to follow up on this topic.

EITI Board member representing civil society Diana Kaissy participated in a seminar titled “The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI),” where she highlighted the latest updates to the EITI Standard, focusing especially on energy transition requirements (including environmental aspects), fighting corruption, revenue management, gender, company expectations, and multi-stakeholder group (MSG) governance.
In closing, PWYP Board member Sihem Bouazza touched on the main talks and next steps, especially the pursuit of collective advocacy campaigns on the energy transition in 2023 and 2024.