One Year On: Where have we got to since Busan?
This week, the Steering Committee of the Global Partnership will convene its first meeting in London. It is just over a year since donors, partner countries, emerging economies and Civil Society Organisations (CSO’s) met at the 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea where the ”Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation” was formed – this set the international standard on the principles of development effectiveness which we believe all development actors should subscribe to. So – one year on, where has the international community got to since Busan?
Diverse stakeholders engaged in the complex consultative process, and one year on, representatives from governments, donors, and civil society still share the will and common ground to keep strengthening aid and improving development outcomes. As Oxfam has recently argued, all development stakeholders must respect and uphold these key principles by fulfilling the promises they made at Busan. For this to happen, the Global Partnership will need strong vision, high-level political engagement and robust, but flexible, global accountability mechanisms that reflect the new landscape of development effectiveness.
Honduras- a case in point
As Lidia Fromm Cea, Vice-minister for Social Policies of the Honduras Ministry of Social Development has recently argued there are commitments which cannot be overlooked, as well as many challenges to be overcome.
In Honduras, publishing user-friendly aid information on a timely basis under the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) and its Standard will allow citizens to track what aid is being used for and especially to monitor what it is achieving. This will also help the Honduran government manage aid more effectively, so that every dollar targeted at fighting poverty does so. An Aid Management Platform was recently established with a set of software tools which improves the accessibility of aid information in Honduras through the web.
The negotiation of conditionalities and use of country systems in Busan has been one of the most difficult challenges for those representing developing countries, given opposition from some donors. The role that representatives from the developing world will play is key to this, and we must keep this mandate alive in the new Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) that was created in Busan.
Many developing countries are still learning how to lead mutual accountability processes with local ownership, and many of us are still exploring the best way to hold donors accountable on the basis of results. The risk that lurks in the new post-Busan dynamics is that conversations shift to the country level, making the global dimension too light. We expect that the GPEDC Steering Committee will make concerted efforts to maintain a proper balance between the global and the country levels. In Honduras, having indicators that were monitored at the global level has been key to shaping dialogue with donors.
In many ways, the new Global Partnership structure must engage in managing institutional and organizational change, ensuring that Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Developmentand United Nations Development Programme leadership have the know-how to reduce barriers, revise incentives, and ensure effective dialogue across multiple partners and sectors under this new Global Partnership. It is developing countries themselves who can most effectively enable us to understand the way aid is delivered in practice, across the different sectors where the aid funding really flows, like health, education, environment, social protection – the OECD and UNDP must adequately link theory to practice and this know-how may result in them providing the type of quality support the Busan commitments demand from all of us.
Progress on IATI – what the has initiative achieved in one year alone
Since Busan, IATI’s membership has expanded from 22 signatories to 35, including the International Labour Organisation (ILO), UN-Habitat and United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to name but a few. In addition, 22 partner countries have also endorsed IATI. A year ago, only thirteen IATI signatories and two NGOs had published their data to IATI. Only just this month, UN Women became the 100th organisation to publish their data to IATI, demonstrating the momentum of the open data community has in meeting its commitments. A full list of IATI publishers can be found on the IATI Registry publishers’ page.
IATI publishing highlights
IATI working with its partners
Recently, IATI, working with Development Gateway, has successfully piloted automated data exchange between donors’ IATI data feeds and the national aid management system in DRC – the Plateforme de Gestion de l’Aide et des Investissements (PGAI). PGAI is now using live IATI data from DFID, The Global Fund and GAVI, with plans to roll this out to other donors including Canada, EC, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and UNDP in the coming months. Similar work is planned in Rwanda and Nepal, while IATI is exploring the scope for integrating data from NGOs and South-South Cooperation providers in aid management systems in Colombia.
As well as work with government partners, the aidinfo programme is working with civil society partners in Nepal, Kenya and Uganda to improve access and support use of the data being published. It is important to recognise that it is still very early days for IATI implementation, and as we have seen in other open data initiatives, it takes a little time for a market of tools to emerge.
That being said, we are starting to see the ecosystem of use of the data emerge, and a number of donors, including the Netherlands, United Kingdom Department for International Development, United Nations Habitat and United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) have all built website applications to visualise their own data, and we are starting to see early versions of some interesting tools that bring all the IATI data together in one place such as AidView.net and OpenAid. These and other tools are showcased at aidinfolabs.org.
Access to Data
In 2013, the most significant development in improving the accessibility of data will be in the further development of the IATI Registry and Data Store, and work is being done in partnership with the Open Knowledge Foundation to provide downloads of bespoke data (e.g. all health projects in Ghana) in a format selected by the user.
The Common Standard
Those who endorsed the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation committed to ‘Implement a common, open standard for electronic publication of timely, comprehensive and forward-looking information on resources provided through development co-operation.’
Detailed negotiations involving representatives of IATI, OECD DAC and the Busan Building Block on Transparency led to an agreement that was endorsed by the final meeting of the Working Party on Aid Effectiveness (WP-EFF) in June 2012. This confirmed that the common standard will combine three complementary systems, the DAC Creditor Reporting System (CRS) and Forward Spending Survey (FSS) and IATI. A template for implementing the common standard has been agreed and Busan endorsers are being urged to complete this before the end of the year, in line with the commitment made at Busan.
As we suggested in our recent blog with Publish What You Fund, the 100th publisher to IATI and the first year anniversary of the Busan High Level Panel meeting offers a reflective moment for the open data movement. We identified three areas that need continued attention:
1) Continued push for new publishers and greater transparency
2) Stronger focus on data quality
3) Improved access and use of data
As recognised by Lidia Fromm Cea, there is an intrinsic global element to the way the Open Government Partnership and the International Aid Transparency Initiative can work. Busan signalled how openness and transparency are clearly linked to effective development policies. That is why aidinfo is calling on the United Nations High Level Panel to adopt access to information as part of the Post-2015 Millennium Development Goals settlement as a goal in and of itself.