NEW YORK – 26 March 2013. A multi-stakeholder consortium has been chosen to host the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), giving new impetus to the drive to increase the transparency and effectiveness of development spending.
The consortium – led by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and including the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), the Governments of Ghana and Sweden, and a UK-based NGO Development Initiatives – was selected by IATI’s Steering Committee in Paris on March 13 following a competitive process. Beginning in mid-2013 for a three year period, the consortium will take over the role carried out since 2009 by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).
Developing countries today face huge challenges in accessing up-to-date information about aid, and in planning and managing these resources effectively. Citizens in developing and donor countries similarly lack the information they need to hold their governments to account for use of these resources.
IATI aims to address these gaps by making information about aid spending easier to access, use and understand.
Launched in 2008, IATI provides a common data format for donors 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 120 UN agencies, multilateral banks, bilateral donors and NGOs covering 76 per cent of official development assistance input their information to IATI, and more than 20 partner countries have endorsed the initiative.
Each member of the consortium brings a unique set of strengths and all have demonstrated their strong commitment to transparency and the goals of IATI. The consortium approach will ensure that the initiative remains inclusive and dynamic, reflecting the changing development environment of today’s world.
UNDP will lead the consortium, coordinate the work of the secretariat and use its global network to promote and expand IATI’s effectiveness. UNOPS will provide financial and administrative services. Development Initiatives will support IATI’s Technical Advisory Group and provide technical support to IATI publishers. Ghana will ensure that partner countries are engaged and represented. Sweden will reach out to and engage donor countries.
IATI’s ability to adjust to the changing aid architecture will be a key challenge in advancing IATI implementation over the next three years. IATI will need to incorporate information on broader development cooperation initiatives, 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.
IATI will work to ensure complementarity with the OECD-DAC Creditor Reporting System (CRS), the Forward Spending Survey (FSS) in the common standard and prioritize progressive convergence towards a single common open standard, with all Busan endorsers completing common standard implementation schedules outlining their plans to fully implement this standard by the end of 2015.
UNDP with its presence in 177 countries brings unparalleled outreach opportunity with all stakeholders and across the UN system. Ensuring improved aid effectiveness is fundamental to UNDP’s vision and forms the basis for its work globally. The organisation has continually proven its commitment to transparency and adhered to its IATI implementation schedule, recently launching open.undp.org and publishing over $5.8 billion in project data. UNDP provides Secretariat support to ensure the effective functioning of the Global Partnership. Through this relationship and the Development Cooperation Forum (DCF), UNDP has the opportunity to coordinate efforts between IATI and other initiatives around aid transparency to implement the Global Common Standard on Transparency agreed in Busan.. Playing a key role in the consultations leading to the establishment of the post-2015 agenda, UNDP also sees the opportunity to raise the profile of IATI within that forum. Specifically, UNDP will ensure the consortium is delivering its objectives, coordinate and oversee the administration and financial management of the consortium, lead its outreach and information functions, and provide overall substantive support to IATI Secretariat, TAG and Steering Committee meetings, fundraising efforts, and to the reform of IATI structures.
UNOPS demonstrated its commitment to IATI by becoming the first UN agency to publish to the standard in October 2011. It has since supported other UN agencies in their efforts to do so, as well as taking forward the wider transparency agenda, for example in the area of UN procurement. UNOPS brings its experience as the legal host to other multi-stakeholder initiatives as well as providing support to other international secretariats, both inside and outside the UN system. UNOPS has strong skills in efficient and cost-effective project management and in creative fundraising. UNOPS will provide financial management and administrative services within the consortium – including HR, procurement, collecting contributions, disbursing resources to partners and contract management, and ensure the smooth running of all logistical aspects of IATI Secretariat and Steering Committee meetings and other activities.
Ghana was one of the first partner countries to endorse IATI and has been a vocal member of the IATI Steering Committee and the Partner Country Caucus, frequently representing the views of partner countries to the wider group. Ghana’s broader commitment to transparency is clear in the wording of its constitution, its accession to the Africa Peer Review Mechanism and its membership of the Open Government Partnership. Ghana is well placed to galvanise partner countries to engage in the IATI process given its pioneering role in transparent government and its credentials as the host of the Accra HLF-3 as well as the IATI consultative workshop for the West and Central Africa Regions. Ghana will co-lead the consortium’s engagement and outreach with partner countries alongside UNDP. It will also contribute political leadership to the reform of IATI structures and ensure that the interests of partner countries are fully represented in the management of the initiative.
Sweden is a founder member of IATI, was one of the first donors to publish to the standard, and was seconded to the IATI Secretariat in the run up to Busan to enhance capacity for political engagement and ensure coordination with the Building Block on Transparency (which it co-chaired with the World Bank). Sweden has also demonstrated its commitment to transparency through the launch of national initiatives such as its aid transparency guarantee and its web-based platform, OpenAid.se, and through its engagement with other global initiatives including the Open Government Partnership, the Open Aid Partnership and the Grand Challenge Making Voices Count. As an acknowledged world leader on transparency, Sweden is well-placed to lead the consortium in its political engagement and outreach to other donors, and to ensure liaison between IATI and other processes such as the Open Government Partnership, the Open Aid Partnership, the OECD-DAC (WP-STAT), the Global Partnership and the Common Standard. It will also provide political leadership to the reform of IATI structures.
Development Initiatives has been a member of the IATI Secretariat and Steering Committee from the outset, responsible for drafting the initial scoping paper on IATI, helping to shape the IATI standard, with an emphasis on ensuring that the standard meets the needs of stakeholders in partner countries, and managing the development and launch of the IATI Registry. To date, DI has provided technical support to 35 IATI signatories in publishing their aid information to the IATI Registry, was the first CSO to publish to IATI in July 2011 and has since worked with BOND to support 73 UK CSOs plus 12 other non-signatories to publish to IATI. DI’s primary role within the consortium will be the continued provision of technical leadership and support, including the technical support necessary for maintaining the IATI standard, and managing support for implementation. DI will also continue to play a role in outreach, with a specific remit to engage with non-traditional donors (NGOs, foundations and the private sector) whilst supporting other consortium members who lead on other aspects of outreach and engagement.