Building Bridges of Accountability across the Pacific: Civil Society Strengthens its Role in Public Finance Management
September 15, 2023
Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia - Strengthening the role of civil society organizations (CSOs) in enhancing public finance accountability in the Pacific region took center stage during a transformative discussion organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific office in collaboration with the Pacific Islands Association of Non-Government Organizations (PIANGO) under the Vaka Pasifika project funded by the European Union (EU). The four-day workshop, titled, ‘Building Bridges of Accountability: Designing and Implementing Adaptive CSO Interventions for Public Finance Accountability in the Pacific’ from 11-14 September concluded with resounding success.
Participants from PIANGO CSO network based in 10 Pacific Islands Countries and Territories converged in Pohnpei, the Federated States of Micronesia to engage in profound discussions about their pivotal role in promoting effective public finance management. They brought their experiences from Fiji, Guam, Kiribati, Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, The Northern Mariana Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu as well as all the four States of the Federated States of Micronesia.
The civil society engagement marked a significant milestone in fostering transparent and accountable budget planning and oversight in the Pacific. As a vital component of the broader Vaka Pasifika Project, an initiative generously funded by the EU. The project recognizes the pivotal role of CSOs in championing the voices of diverse and vulnerable communities across the Pacific, advocating for their inclusion in national development agendas.
Interactive sessions covered an array of topics, including techniques for analyzing budget documents, monitoring government expenditures, and conducting meaningful public consultations. Through practical exercises and dynamic conversations, CSO representatives gained insights into best practices and innovative approaches to champion transparency and accountability in public funds utilization.
"Working with PIANGO and UNDP has helped us simplify budget information for our communities. Now, they can engage in meaningful discussions about public spending," shared Ms Pacisepa Burelevu, Finance Officer of the Fiji Council of Social Services (FCOSS).
The workshop also emphasized harnessing partnerships and networks to magnify the impact of CSOs in shaping transparent budget planning and oversight processes. Participants brought to the fore experiences from their respective countries, spotlighting triumphs, hurdles, and opportunities for strengthening synergy. Participants also took an opportunity to exchange ideas with a CSO representative from Jamaica who shared her expertise and experience in improving public financial accountability in Jamaica.
"Our organization is part of PIANGO’s National Liaison Units (NLUs). NLUs play a vital role in coordinating CSOs for effective public finance advocacy. The grant program will further boost our efforts," affirmed Mr Fuimaono Vaitolo Ofoia, Chief Executive Officer of the Samoa Umbrella for Non-Governmental Organisations (SUNGO).
A highlight of the workshop was the development of tailored sub-grant proposals that mirror the project's objectives. Collaborative brainstorming sessions led by seasoned facilitators from both PIANGO and UNDP saw proposals taking shape, encompassing a diverse spectrum of activities. These ranged from grassroots budget awareness campaigns to advanced capacity-building workshops for policymakers.
"The workshop solidified a commitment to collective action and cooperation among CSOs in the Pacific. Participants are leaving with renewed purpose and determination to implement their proposed activities effectively," highlighted Ms. Marstella Jack, Board Chair of PIANGO.
Ms. Rowena Dimaampao, Operations Manager at UNDP FSM Office stated, "This workshop exemplifies our commitment to fostering partnerships and empowering CSOs as agents of change. By enhancing their capacity, we strengthen public finance accountability, paving the way for sustainable development and inclusive growth in the Pacific."
The partnership developed between PIANGO and UNDP through the Vaka Pasifika Project with generous support from the EU underscores the collective dedication to fostering a more transparent and accountable utilization of public finances across the Pacific region. The workshop's success marks a significant step towards empowering CSOs, enhancing their role in public finance accountability, and ultimately advancing inclusive and sustainable development of Pacific communities.
For more information, please contact:
Alrina Ali, UNDP Project Activity Manager | Email: email@example.com | Phone: +679 331 2500
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