Watching the watchdogs
Evaluating independent expert panels that monitor large-scale oil and gas pipeline projects
With the expansion of the global search for oil, gas, and other natural resources in recent decades, extractive industry companies increasingly have extended their reach to remote and sensitive areas, as well as to more politically risky environments. Within this context, project-affected communities and civil society organizations increasingly demand public accountability of the corporations that implement large-scale projects with the potential to generate serious social and environmental impacts and of the public international financial institutions (IFIs) that sometimes participate in financing these projects. Expert panels bring together experienced independent experts to identify risks and opportunities and prepare recommendations to address social and environmental issues, and generally report directly to company or IFI management. The panels have emerged as a way for project sponsors and lenders to provide an external and ostensibly impartial check on project implementation.