Media release, 6 September 2013
A multi-stakeholder consortium today assumes from DFID its new Secretariat role within the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), marking the 5th anniversary of the Accra Agenda for Action and giving new impetus to the transparency of development spending globally.
The new Secretariat is led by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and is joined by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), the Governments of Ghana and Sweden, and the UK-based non-governmental organization (NGO) Development Initiatives.
“UNDP is proud to lead the new Secretariat,” UNDP Administrator Helen Clark said. “UNDP has a longstanding commitment to operating in the open, and is committed to the most effective and transparent use of the resources for development entrusted to it.”
A multi-stakeholder initiative
“IATI has made great progress since its creation in 2008 and Sweden stays at the forefront for better transparency by being a part of the consortium hosting IATI for the next three years”, said Gunilla Carlsson, Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation.
As Ms Carlsson explains, open data on activity level provides huge potential to empower people on the ground. Donors will also be able to do their jobs better with transparency data – informing decisions, making partner collaboration easier, fighting corruption and in being accountable to taxpayers.
Citizens in both donor and developing countries similarly lack the information they need to hold their governments to account for use of these resources. According to Seth Tekper, Minister of Finance of Ghana, “developing countries face huge challenges in assessing up-to-date information about development assistance and this adversely affects our ability to effectively plan and manage our economic development.”
IATI aims to address these gaps by making information about development spending easier to access, use and understand. “The aims and objectives of IATI are in line with the Government of Ghana fiscal policy objectives of strengthening budget processes and financial accounting methods,” said Minister Tekper. “It is in light of this that Ghana endorsed the IATI and has been an active member to date”.
IATI’s ability to adjust to the changing development cooperation architecture will be a key challenge in advancing IATI implementation over the next three years. In addition to increasing the use of IATI data, particularly at the country level, IATI’s priorities going forward include improving the standard and expanding its membership.
IATI will need to incorporate information on broader development finance flows, 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.
On behalf of Development Initiatives, Harpinder Collacott said, “as technical lead for the consortium, our aim is to support more organizations to publish to the IATI standard, to improve the quality of the data that is published, and to promote greater use of IATI data”.
IATI will equally work to strengthen partnerships with other initiatives around transparency, and to increase convergence towards a single common open standard. A technical team comprised of IATI and OECD-DAC experts has been working to ensure complementarity with the OECD-DAC Creditor Reporting System (CRS), and the Forward Spending Survey (FSS) in the common standard.
These topics will be discussed during the next IATI Steering Committee on 2-3 October, in the new UN City in Copenhagen.
Jan Mattsson, UNOPS Executive Director said, “I am delighted to welcome members of IATI to Copenhagen in October for the first steering committee meeting with the new Secretariat. Transparency is core to development effectiveness and I believe that the broad, inclusive and dynamic nature of IATI will ensure that we expand the membership and further advance the transparency agenda.”
Publish once, use often
Launched in 2008, IATI provides a common data format for countries willing to release information about current and future development cooperation 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 development cooperation is spent.
More than 170 countries, UN agencies, multilateral banks and NGOs covering 76 percent of official development assistance input their information to IATI, and more than 20 partner countries have endorsed the initiative.
Notes to editors
UNDP with its presence in 177 countries brings unparalleled outreach opportunity with all stakeholders and across the UN system. The organization has continually proven its commitment to transparency and adhered to its IATI implementation schedule, recently launching open.undp.org and publishing over US$5.8 billion in project data. UNDP has also been a member of the IATI Secretariat since 2011, supporting pilot initiatives in developing countries to test the benefits of IATI. UNDP will lead the new Secretariat and have overall responsibility for coordination, communications, outreach to partner countries and non-traditional donors, and liaison with the Steering Committee.
UNOPS demonstrated its commitment to IATI by becoming the first UN institution to publish its information as per 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 will provide financial management and administrative services, including procurement, collection of membership fees and additional voluntary contributions, disbursement of resources to partners and contract management. UNOPS will also ensure the smooth running of all logistical aspects of the IATI Secretariat, Steering Committee and TAG meetings.
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 High Level Forum-3 as well as the IATI consultative workshop for the West and Central Africa Regions. Ghana will chair IATI’s partner country caucus, lead IATI’s political engagement and support outreach with partner countries, and ensure that the interests of partner countries are fully represented in the management of the initiative.
Sweden,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. Sweden will lead IATI”s political engagement and outreach to donors, and ensure liaison between the IATI Secretariat and other relevant fora such as the Open Government Partnership, the Open Aid Partnership, the OECD-DAC (WP-STAT), and the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation in the context of the common standard.
Development Initiatives (DI) 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 25 IATI signatories in publishing their aid information to the IATI Registry. It was the first NGO to publish to IATI in July 2011 and has since worked with BOND to support 60 UK NGOs plus 12 other non-signatories to publish to IATI. DI will provide technical leadership and support for implementation, and for maintaining and developing the IATI standard. It will continue to provide support to communications and outreach activities of other consortium members.
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