The International Aid Transparency Initiative welcomes its new Secretariat

06 Sep 2013

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New York – A multi-stakeholder consortium today assumes from DFID its new Secretariat role within the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), marking the 5th anniversary of the Accra Agenda for Action and giving new impetus to the transparency of development spending globally.

The new Secretariat is led by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and is joined by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), the Governments of Ghana and Sweden, and the UK-based non-governmental organization Development Initiatives.

“UNDP is proud to lead the new Secretariat,” UNDP Administrator Helen Clark said. “UNDP has a longstanding commitment to operating in the open, and is committed to the most effective and transparent use of the resources for development entrusted to it.”

A multi-stakeholder initiative

“IATI has made great progress since its creation in 2008 and Sweden stays at the forefront for better transparency by being a part of the consortium hosting IATI for the next three years”, said Gunilla Carlsson, Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation.

As Ms Carlsson explains, open data on activity level provides huge potential to empower people on the ground. Donors will also be able to do their jobs better with transparency data – informing decisions, making partner collaboration easier, fighting corruption and in being accountable to taxpayers.

Citizens in both donor and developing countries similarly lack the information they need to hold their governments to account for use of these resources. According to Seth Tekper, Minister of Finance of Ghana, “developing countries face huge challenges in assessing up-to-date information about development assistance and this adversely affects our ability to effectively plan and manage our economic development.”

IATI aims to address these gaps by making information about development spending easier to access, use and understand. “The aims and objectives of IATI are in line with the Government of Ghana fiscal policy objectives of strengthening budget processes and financial accounting methods,” said Minister Tekper. “It is in light of this that Ghana endorsed the IATI and has been an active member to date”.

Way forward

IATI’s ability to adjust to the changing development cooperation architecture will be a key challenge in advancing IATI implementation over the next three years. In addition to increasing the use of IATI data, particularly at the country level, IATI’s priorities going forward include improving the standard and expanding its membership.

IATI will need to incorporate information on broader development finance flows, in addition to official development assistance. This will require deeper engagement with a wide range of providers of development cooperation, particularly emerging economies, foundations, and the private sector.

On behalf of Development Initiatives, Harpinder Collacott said, “as technical lead for the consortium, our aim is to support more organizations to publish to the IATI standard, to improve the quality of the data that is published, and to promote greater use of IATI data”.

IATI will equally work to strengthen partnerships with other initiatives around transparency, and to increase convergence towards a single common open standard. A technical team comprised of IATI and OECD-DAC experts has been working to ensure complementarity with the OECD-DAC Creditor Reporting System (CRS), and the Forward Spending Survey (FSS) in the common standard.

These topics will be discussed during the next IATI Steering Committee on 2-3 October, in the new UN City in Copenhagen.

Jan Mattsson, UNOPS Executive Director said, “I am delighted to welcome members of IATI to Copenhagen in October for the first steering committee meeting with the new Secretariat. Transparency is core to development effectiveness and I believe that the broad, inclusive and dynamic nature of IATI will ensure that we expand the membership and further advance the transparency agenda.”

Publish once, use often

Launched in 2008, IATI provides a common data format for countries willing to release information about current and future aid spending in a timely, comparable and reliable way. Financial flows, budgets, results, location, timelines and project documents are published into an online repository accessible to all users interested in tracking where, when and how aid is spent.

More than 170 bilateral donors, UN agencies, multilateral banks and NGOs covering 76 percent of official development assistance input their information to IATI, and more than 20 partner countries have endorsed the initiative.

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