Helen Clark: Keynote Speech at the event “Transparency in Development Cooperation: Much done, Much Left To Do”

Nov 30, 2016

I am delighted to join this event, “Transparency in Development Cooperation: Much done, Much Left To Do”, which celebrates the substantial progress being made on the global transparency agenda. It’s also an opportunity to reaffirm our collective commitment to advancing the use of open data in development programme planning, delivery, and monitoring.

IATI’s data on development activities is contributing to more effective development assistance, which in turn will support countries to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.

IATI is:

•    Strengthening national ownership. National governments need full knowledge of what financing is available to them. Access to data informs development planning, policy-making, and decisions on resource allocations.

•    Empowering citizens by showing clearly how development co-operation works, and by giving access to the information on aid spending through which governments can be held to account. Open data also helps researchers and journalists do their job in analysing how aid flows are used;

•    Supporting co-ordinated humanitarian efforts. When humanitarian actors report information on aid spending and activities during crises and emergencies, gaps in support can be identified and addressed more quickly.

Over the past three years, both the publishing and use of IATI data has expanded. Almost 500 organisations are now sharing their data across billions of dollars’ of aid spending.

As more and higher quality data is shared, websites, applications, and tools are being developed to improve access to and use of IATI data to plan, execute, and monitor aid spending. More countries are accessing and using IATI. For example,

•    The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning in Liberia used IATI data related to Ebola during the crisis in 2014 and 2015. This enabled the Government to monitor aid contributions, and to ensure that assistance pledged had actually been delivered and the activities funded had been completed.

•    In Bangladesh, UNDP supported the Government to develop an Aid Information Management System which can import IATI data directly into national budget systems. The Ministry of Finance is preparing to use this data systematically to inform national development policy-making.

•    In Myanmar, directly importing IATI data into national systems significantly reduced staff workloads, by eliminating the need to enter data manually for many hundreds of development activities and financial transactions.

This progress is encouraging, but there is still a way to go. Big commitments have been made to transparency and development effectiveness. For these to happen at the scale and speed needed to achieve the SDGs by 2030, more is required from everyone who has a stake in development.

Traditional donors must publish more details about their Official Development Assistance (ODA), and should work with their own country offices to raise awareness of and encourage the use of IATI data.

Multilateral organisations must ensure that their country offices are familiar with IATI, and that they too are aware of the data which is available so that it can inform and guide their work.

All humanitarian actors need to get engaged and begin regularly publishing timely data to IATI on their responses to crises and emergencies. Humanitarian actors made a very important political commitment to publish their data to IATI as part of the Grand Bargain at the World Humanitarian Summit earlier this year. Since then IATI has welcomed the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a new member, and is working with several other humanitarian organisations to encourage them to join.

Civil society can assist by scrutinizing the data available and advocating for its use.

IATI is doing its part by working closely with different groups to support the publishing of better data, and to encourage new publishers from among the humanitarian community, South-South Co-operation providers, climate adaptation financiers, private institutions, and others. IATI is also working with other data standards groups to ensure that the databases published are interoperable.

UNDP places great priority on transparency, and has worked hard to improve the quality of the information it publishes to IATI. This commitment is reflected in UNDP’s lead IATI transparency ranking. Being transparent has helped UNDP lift donor trust in it, and made the organisation more accountable to partners. Transparency has also helped improve UNDP’s internal management. All staff are aware that their reporting is subject to external scrutiny, and must take extra care to ensure that it is complete and accurate.

UNDP is committed to continuing its efforts to publish and use data, and to support all partners to do the same.

I wish you all a successful meeting.

UNDP Around the world