Busan Elements Series: How the European Investment Bank publishes timely data

  • April 7, 2015

EIB Marc SchublinAs the deadline for fulfilling the Busan commitments approaches, we are profiling IATI publishers who exemplify the required elements of presenting timely, comprehensive and forward-looking data. Today, Marc Schublin, Director of Corporate Responsibility for the European Investment Bank, describes how the EIB publishes timely data to IATI.

As the EU Bank, the European Investment Bank lends annually around EUR 7bn for public and private sector investment in developing countries outside the EU. Our investments support private sector growth, the shift towards low-carbon, climate-resilient pathways, and the development of strategic infrastructure. These all contribute to poverty alleviation and economic revitalization.

We have decided to join IATI as we are convinced about the benefits that transparency can bring to aid and development finance and how openness can help in achieving global development objectives.

Publishing to IATI has made us consider how we can better present our data and projects on our website, and how we can interlink the different online tools that contain project information and documents. IATI has also played a positive role in data quality and general awareness about transparency among our staff. The number of downloads of our IATI files has also increased constantly since we started publishing, which demonstrates that our data is being used and our operations have thus become more visible.

The EIB is both a bank and a public body. Given this dual character, being transparent about how we make decisions, work and implement EU policies strengthens our credibility and accountability to citizens. Transparency also contributes to increasing the efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability of our operations, reinforcing our zero-tolerance stance on fraud and corruption, ensuring adherence to environmental and social standards linked to financed projects, and promoting accountability and good governance.

We have just reviewed our transparency policy, following an extensive public consultation process. Our new Policy continues to commit us to the highest standards of transparency in our day-to-day work and now also includes a specific reference to IATI.

EIB_EU_SLOGAN_A_French_4cAs a financial institution that often works with private sector clients in a development context, the EIB has a different business model and way of operating compared to traditional aid agencies. The biggest challenge we faced was the fact that IATI and the reporting standard were initially not designed for our type of institution. Before publishing, therefore, we worked very closely with the IATI Secretariat and a group of other development finance institutions to put in place guidelines specifically for organizations within the financial sector.

In parallel and internally, we prepared the ground from a technical point of view, setting up the necessary systems, assessing data availability and defining the related procedures for publishing.

Our signing up and publishing to IATI has been received very positively across the board by our partners and stakeholders. It has also enhanced our cooperation with other institutions in the EU family on issues regarding development transparency. We have already been asked for advice by a number of fellow financial institutions that also work with private sector clients in development, and that are interested in associating themselves with IATI.

IATI publication cannot be achieved overnight. There are up-front resources needed, transparency does not come for free, and one needs people and systems to have something like IATI successfully up and running. But this investment pays off in the long run – after only half a year of IATI publication we can already see that IATI reporting can be very cost-efficient. We have deliberately decided to automate our IATI publication as much as possible, which allows us to reduce the workload to a minimum.

We considered the publication of timely data of key importance from the very beginning. Accordingly, we have educated our staff that the data they put into our systems will appear online shortly after, without any manual changes. Automating this process has helped us in making updated IATI data available on a monthly basis.

We hope that IATI will continue to be open and flexible concerning non-traditional actors in development cooperation. The landscape of development finance is changing, and an initiative like IATI can play an important role in allowing different types of stakeholders to associate themselves with the global openness and transparency agenda.

We would also like to see increased usage of IATI data by partner countries.