Our Perspectives

The role of data standards in tracking financing for development


 Work is underway with South-South Cooperation providers to extend the IATI Standard to include their specific needs. Indian elections in 2014 inspired several country delegations from the Global South. Photo: Prashanth Vishwanathan/UNDP India

As the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FFD) kicks off in Addis Ababa, it is important to focus on how the commitments made will be tracked – at a global level, but most importantly, at country level.

Throughout the FFD negotiations, a consensus has emerged on the need to mobilise all forms of development finance – public and private, domestic and international – to promote sustainable development and support the ambitious targets proposed for the post-2015 agenda. The first step in mobilising all of these resources for a common purpose is to publish information in a common way. As Chair of The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), I believe that we can do just that.

IATI has developed an open data standard – the IATI Standard – which enables a wide range of organisations to publish information on their development cooperation in a common, open, electronic format. The IATI Standard can be used to publish data at the level of individual initiatives - projects and programmes, grants, loans, securities and guarantees - and it provides timely, comprehensive and forward-looking management information that meets the needs of partner countries. As a result, it is an ideal tool for publication of data that will allow analysis of financing for development at national level. Jointly with Development Initiatives, IATI has developed d-portal.org, a platform that provides a tool for real-time tracking of financing for development by country, sector or resource.  

The IATI Standard is still relatively new – the first organisations only began publishing their data in 2011 and over 340 organisations are now publishing to the IATI Registry. This includes traditional donors, multilateral institutions, national and international CSOs, philanthropic foundations, development finance institutions and private sector consultancies.

The IATI Standard has demonstrated that it is flexible enough to capture data on many different types of international development finance flows. Work is underway with South-South Cooperation providers and with the humanitarian community to extend the IATI Standard to include their specific needs. With further minor adaptations, it could capture data on all international development finance flows, so IATI provides an ideal basis for developing a fully comprehensive standard for the publication of information on international development finance flows.

For IATI to deliver on its potential, three things need to happen:

1) We need all providers of development cooperation and other development finance to publish their data to the IATI Standard.

2) We need to improve the quality of the data already published to IATI.

3) We need to step-up our work with stakeholders at country level to increase the use of IATI data, for example by importing that data directly into country-based aid management and budget systems.

Our side-event on the role of data standards and international initiatives in mobilising and monitoring financing for development. will look in depth at what IATI can offer in terms of tracking FFD commitments. We hope that as many delegates as possible will join us.

Development Finance South-South cooperation Development Effectiveness Transparency Accountability Robin Uyterlinde

UNDP Around the world