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Transparency in the DAC High Level Meeting

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Rachel Rank, Research and Monitoring Manager at Publish What You Fund, discusses the implications of the recent High Level Meeting of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) in London for the aid transparency movement in today’s guest blog.

Last week, development ministers from the OECD and emerging economies met in London for the High Level Meeting of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC). Despite development successes over the past 20 years and the progress of many emerging economies, the ministers present noted that inequality is increasing in all countries and 1.4 billion people still live in absolute poverty.

All participants recommitted to working through the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation in the lead up to the 2015 date set to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Through this partnership, DAC members and their developing country partners, civil society and the private sector will focus on post-2015 targets based on sustainability, human rights and quality of life.

We are glad to see transparency feature so highly in the 2012 DAC High Level Meeting communiqué, which outlines the full range of the discussions and decisions. Listed below are our responses to each of these references.

“This Partnership holds significant promise as a new “space” where all partners can work together to explore the effectiveness of their efforts to achieve tangible development results, to discover the complementarities between South-South and North-South modalities and focus on results, improved transparency and increased local ownership at the country level.”

Our response: Donors need to publish to IATI if they wish to facilitate true ownership and accountability at country level. We need to know what aid is currently being provided – to whom, when, how much and what for – and give access to that information to all stakeholders.

“Ongoing efforts need to be accelerated and deepened in order to fully meet the milestones agreed in Busan. These included: transparency, untying and country-level predictability.”

Our response: IATI helps with achieving these three targets – particularly predictability, which is referred to in several places throughout the statement, along with fragmentation. Some IATI publishers are already providing their data on a monthly or quarterly basis in a common, comparable format.

“OECD Members further reaffirmed their commitment to exploring the scope for the DAC to become a more inclusive global hub for transparency in development co-operation.”

Our response: Some DAC members have been slow to get on board with IATI but the Busan partnership gives them an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to implementing a common standard for publishing aid information and get up to speed with the work that IATI has been doing since 2008. Donors have committed to publishing their common standard implementation plans by the end of this month and to publish to the common standard fully by 2015 – IATI is fully incorporated in this common standard. We will be watching to see how implementation progresses.

“Transparency regarding the terms of individual ODA loans.”

Our response: The terms and conditions of loans can be published via IATI. DFIs and the private sector can use IATI too. It is not just for traditional donors providing grants. Different donors are already publishing to it – a private foundation, IFIs and a DFI. Other DFIs need to get on board.

Finally, in their discussions about the future of official development assistance (ODA), ministers and agencies agreed that it must be directed to where it is most needed and can best catalyse other flows. They asked the DAC to work with the UN system together with the IMF and the World Bank on proposals for new measures of total official support for development, including defining what constitutes ODA.

Rachel Rank

Rachel is the Research and Monitoring Manager at Publish What You Fund. You can reach her at rachel.rank@publishwhatyoufund.org.

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