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Transparency Initiative: Opening speech

Opening speech by His Royal Highness The Crown Prince at the Transparency Initiative Seminar in Baku, Azerbaijan, 7 June 2011.

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

I am pleased to attend this seminar on the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and revenue management in the petroleum sector and the importance of ensuring good governance, accountability and transparency. These are important issues where Azerbaijan and Norway can exchange experiences and best practices.

Norway and Azerbaijan are endowed with substantial petroleum resources. Abundant natural resource revenues can be a blessing if managed wisely, and a curse if not.

Based on strong and accountable institutions, political consensus, and responsible resource management, Norway has developed her petroleum resources for the benefit of Norwegian society as a whole. Our policies had a long term perspective from the moment the first oil discovery was made in 1969, more than 100 years after Baku experienced its first commercial use of the black gold.

The first paragraph in the Norwegian petroleum legislation made it clear that the whole Norwegian society should benefit from the resources and that they should contribute to welfare, employment, improved environment and industrial development.

Transparency, accountability and good governance has been guiding principles, but the success is also a result of the engagement shown by an active civil society and a broad engagement by the industry and the trade unions. By creating an environment based on democratic values and protection of human rights, we have achieved nationwide wealth creation.

It is an important task for governments to transform natural resource endowments into long-term wealth. This is a complex and demanding task. How do we make the right policy choices in the face of great expectations for rapid economic and social development? How do we balance the needs of today with those of tomorrow?

No country has a simple solution on how to best ensure the sound management of natural resources. But we all have experiences we can share, and today’s seminar is an opportunity to do so.

Azerbaijan and Norway have implemented the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, and share the vision of making the EITI a global norm. Improving transparency and accountability in the extractive industries is an important means of ensuring sound revenue management. EITI has created a platform for dialogue between governments, oil companies and civil society. The multi-stakeholder structure is a fundamental basis for the success of the initiative. Civil society has an equal role to play.

Both countries have established national oil funds that play a key role in managing oil and gas revenues. We therefore have an excellent basis for sharing experience and lessons learned and discussing expanded cooperation in this field.

Our responsibility is to manage our resources in a sustainable way, generating long-term economic growth and promoting welfare for the entire population with an emphasis on health, safety and the environment. We have to find ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Our ambition should be to enable future generations to enjoy the fruits of our revenues, through sound management.

I look forward to your exchange of experience and views on these important issues.

Thank you.


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