The group ranked nations based on analysis of their legal and institutional structures, openness in reporting revenues, auditing and prevention of conflicts of interests, corruption and rule of law, and other factors.
Depending on their numerical score in the index, nations are in the “satisfactory,” “partial,” “weak” or “failing” category.
“Transparency is missing in countries where it is needed most,” the report finds. It notes that nine of the 15 “failing” nations – such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Saudi Arabia, Cameroon, Iran and others – are among the most resource-dependent countries in the world.
In these nations, oil-and-gas and mining account for an average of 34 percent of gross domestic product and 60 percent of total federal revenues.
More broadly, over half the nations surveyed “do not meet even basic standards of resource governance,” the group said.
Eleven nations did well enough to place in the “satisfactory” category. The top five are Norway, the United States (though the report looked only at Gulf of Mexico development), the United Kingdom, Australia and Brazil.
While countries at the very top of the list were wealthy nations, the Revenue Watch Institute notes that strong performance isn’t limited to these countries.
“Six of the 11 top performers are middle-income countries—Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Trinidad and Tobago – showing that being wealthy is not a precondition for good governance,” the report states.
“The Index research reveals a governance deficit in how transparent and accountable countries are with their natural resources,” said Daniel Kaufmann, president of the Revenue Watch Institute, in a statement. “But by pointing to reforming states and to solutions, we reject the tired notion of the deterministic ‘resource curse.’ ”
The report also says that even the best-performing nations need to ensure that they’re not enabling problems in poor resource-dependent countries.
“Countries like Canada, the United States and Australia ... need to ensure their multinational companies do not facilitate the opacity found in many countries where they operate,” Kaufmann said.
Check out the whole report here.