Simon Taylor is a co-founder of Global Witness (www.globalwitness.org), together with two others, Charmian Gooch, and Patrick Alley. Simon met Charmian and Patrick whilst working at the Environmental Investigations Agency (EIA). Global Witness is a UK and US based Non-Governmental organisation, that campaigns to end environmental and human rights abuses driven by the exploitation of natural resources and corruption in the global political and economic system.
Having worked on Global Witness’ first campaign to investigate and shut down revenue streams to the genocidal Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, Simon then began Global Witness’ oil and corruption campaign in 1999. This started a global effort at exposing malfeasance in the oil, gas and mining industries, and a call for their transparency and accountability - some of the most corrupt industries on the planet – for their operations extracting oil, gas and minerals. Revenue streams for many countries dependent on natural resources often make up the bulk of national income, and yet frequently efforts to access natural resources drive conflict, instability, and resultant revenue streams are looted. This work helped Global Witness shape and conceive the Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Campaign (www.pwyp.org), which Simon was the co-founder of in 2002, together with George Soros and other NGOs. Today, PWYP is a global movement consisting of more than 1000 organisations spread across more than 50 countries, all aligned around holding companies and governments to account in their extraction of natural resources.
In 2002, the UK Government responded to PWYP, and launched the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, or EITI. This is a multi-stakeholder initiative, that places civil society in the central role of holding governments and companies to account for the revenue streams developed from extraction. Simon now serves as an international civil society board member of the EITI. (See www.eiti.org)
In recent years, Simon has also increasingly focussed on seeking enhanced accountability for companies and their executives for serious acts of corruption. To give one example: Simon is a co-complainant to the Milan Public Prosecutor’s office, about a corrupt deal obtained in Nigeria by the international oil companies Shell and Eni. This led to a criminal investigation by the prosecutor, and both companies, together with a number of their senior executives, are on trial in Milan for international Corruption. The trial is drawing to a close at time of writing (late 2020). All those accused, and both companies, deny any wrong-doing.
Simon is increasingly also focussed on the mechanisms by which the fossil fuel industry has corrupted and co-opted global politics to such an extent that it has been able to prevent appropriate action to address the climate crisis. Global Witness is substantially advancing its focus from sectoral reform, to seeking means by which it is shut down, and its decline is responsibly and equitably managed, taking into account the needs of workers, but at a pace determined by scientific understanding of the climate crisis.
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