Last November 9, Open Ownership organized a workshop with civil society organizations in the Philippines. It's been a while since I last worked on beneficial ownership (BO) data. Three years to be exact. But my commitment to the cause never wavered. My session covered how to utilize BO data for improving natural resource governance. In this blog, I will share some of the insights from my presentation.
why use beneficial ownership data?
For me, using BO data is crucial for two reasons. Firstly, using BO data helps inform public debate. More often than not, if you go to mining communities and ask them who the owner is of the mining company, they have a rough idea of who the real owners are. Sometimes it’s because it’s common knowledge already. But our role as civil society is to inform public debate with evidence. If we want a strong case for our advocacies, we need to use data because data represents facts and the truth. And that makes it hard to refute. If we want to be authoritative and credible in informing public debate and pushing for reforms, we need to use data.
Second reason and this, for me, is more of looking at the bigger picture. For the last seven years, I have worked on soooooo many good governance initiatives (e.g., EITI, OGP, open contracting, beneficial ownership, etc and list goes on). What I think is our critical role as civil society is to make sure we use these data and information to sustain the demand for more disclosures and in the long run help the initiative remain relevant. Because if we don’t use it, no one else will. Civil society needs to make sure these good governance initiatives real their full potential and one way to do that is to use the data.
how to use beneficial ownership data?
Four years ago, when I was still with the Philippine EITI Secretariat, we developed this tool or method called ACES. It’s basically a simple, four-step process in using data. It stands for:
Step 1: Ask a question/s
In the context of BO data, these are just some of the most common questions that one may have in mind.
Step 2: Collect data
The second step is Collect data. In the Philippines, the main source of BO data in the extractives is of course the Philippine EITI Beneficial Ownership Registry. The tool comes with useful functions.
Step 3: Examine data
the next step is to analyze the data or examine the data to help answer our question. This is where we explore the data that we have. These are just some of the possible and basic ways to explore the data:
Due to the limitations of the available BO data, we have to acknowledge that our data is not as comprehensive at the moment but we have to start somewhere.
Step 4: Share findings
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Hey there! I'm Marco from the Philippines. I write mostly about natural resource governance, open data, and good governance.