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A Theory of Change for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

Designing resource governance pathways to improve developmental outcomes

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative is a major international effort to disclose information about extractive activities. Having an explicit Theory of Change could help it to improve natural resource governance and developmental outcomes. The design of an appropriate Theory of Change model should reflect national contexts and objectives, strengthen and target better information disclosure, and build capacity among the public and civil society.

9 August 2020
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A Theory of Change for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

Main points

  • Many researchers, practitioners, donors, and decision makers have evaluated the EITI’s impact on resource governance and development since its implementation, and whether its notion that information disclosure prompts change is valid. An explicit Theory of Change could help understand how the EITI can achieve improved extractive sector governance and development in participating countries.
  • An EITI Theory of Change should build on the EITI’s success in providing credible information, creating constructive dialogues, and contributing to institutional reforms.
  • The EITI would gain from a Theory of Change that strengthens and targets better information disclosure, and builds capacity among the public and civil society to analyse and act upon the disclosed information. It would also benefit from greater outreach within government, through representation at the multi-stakeholder group, and clearer communication channels and products.
  • Designing a Theory of Change that integrates information and issues at the subnational level would enable governments to show in more detail where revenues come from, what they are used for and where, and engage citizens on issues that are ‘closer’ to them.
  • An EITI Theory of Change must address pressing issues such as the social and environmental costs of extraction, small- and medium-scale mining, and the expenditure side of revenue management.
  • The EITI needs to develop models and guidelines to design and implement effective and dynamic country-specific Theories of Change. The needs, challenges, and objectives that the national EITIs seek to address vary between countries and over time.
  • Of the three simplified and stylised Theory of Change models presented in this study, the Public Debate model was deemed as the most important, the Technical Reforms model as the most efficient, and the Name-and-Shame model as often initially relevant.
  • Although the models are not mutually exclusive and can be complementary, they are useful in structuring reflections and discussions about how the EITI and information disclosure can lead to better extractive sector management and improved developmental outcomes for the society.

Cite this publication

Le Billon, P.; Lujala, P.; Rustad, S.; (2020) A Theory of Change for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Issue 2020:11)

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About the authors

Philippe Le Billon

(PhD Geography, Oxford University, 1999) is a Professor at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs of the University of British Columbia (UBC). He works on the environment, development, and security nexus, with a focus on conflicts and natural resources including extractive sectors. He is the author of Wars of Plunder: Conflicts, Profits and the Politics of Resources.

Päivi Lujala

(PhD Economics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, 2008) is a Professor at the Geography Research Unit, University of Oulu. Her research focuses on two broad topics: management of valuable natural resources in the Global South and adaption to climate (change) related natural hazards. Her work on natural resources has focused on citizen engagement, transparency, and accountability in natural resource revenue management.

Siri Aas Rustad

(PhD Political Science, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), 2012) is a Senior Researcher at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO). Her research interests are, among others, conflicts related to natural resources, natural resource management, conflict trends and dynamics, the geography of conflict, and human consequences of conflict. Her work has appeared in such journals as World Development, Political Geography, Journal of Peace Research, International Interactions, and Conflict Management and Peace Science.


All views in this text are the author(s)’, and may differ from the U4 partner agencies’ policies.

This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


Johnny Mclendon