Press release / Sept. 10, 2020

Statement on Global Witness’s work in Guyana

Mike Davis, CEO of Global Witness, has made the following statement on Global Witness’s work in Guyana:

“In February we published a detailed report setting out how a deal between the Guyanese Government and the oil giant Exxon had potentially deprived the country of billions of dollars for the public purse. This was followed, in August, by a statement aimed at the new Government – installed after months of political turmoil – calling on them to return to the negotiating table and secure a better deal for the Guyanese people.

“As with all our work, our approach to this investigation was informed by our engagement with local organisations, activists and campaigners in 2018 and 2019, the majority of whom made it clear they wanted to see a new contract drawn up with Exxon. Our team consulted with over a dozen Guyanese activists and approximately 80 community members across Guyana, including those attending a large workshop organised by Guyanese CSOs to discuss the oil sector in July 2019.

“We are aware there are a group of individuals from Guyanese civil society who have raised very important concerns about our strategy and specifically the methodology used in producing the revenue estimates published in the report and whether those estimates are still accurate in light of this year’s dramatic decline in the global oil price. We welcome this engagement and are keen to ensure that we are fully transparent in our methodology and that they can have confidence in our work. We are seeking to engage with them on these issues as quickly and as constructively as possible. Following their request, we are compiling a detailed response to questions and requests for further analysis posed to us in correspondence with our Chair. We have also asked if they would be willing, or interested, in holding a discussion with us ahead of receiving this, which we understand they do not want to do.

“Global Witness is committed to doing all it can to end the catastrophe of climate breakdown. Our new strategy, introduced at the start of this year, has our campaigns to protect the planet at its core. To this end, we had already started moving away from work to improve the governance of the oil and gas sector towards campaigns to end the extraction of all fossil fuels once and for all. Across all our campaigns, we are doing what we can to transition to this new strategic approach in a responsible way that recognises the commitments we made to our partners and the CSOs we have worked with on the ground – including in Guyana.

“We hope we can reassure those campaigners who have raised issues with us about this specific piece of work that we are committed to making our contribution to the global climate movement, as well as respecting the brave and vital work of others. We remain ready to engage in dialogue to identify how we can best contribute as we move forward.”

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