The Aid Transparency Index & the Post-2015 Agenda

We are on the final count down to the 2014 Aid Transparency Index (ATI) results being revealed. I wish our team going to DC the best of luck for a productive discussion around the results on the 8th. With such a distinguished panel they probably won’t need any luck!

I’d like to take this opportunity to also make some reflections around the ATI in the context of the current international development conversations vis-a-vis past agreements. Publish What You Fund has been assessing the aid transparency of the biggest and most influential donors since our first pilot in 2011. We have taken the particular task of advocating for the implementation of the commitments made by donors at the Fourth High Level Meeting of Aid Effectiveness in Busan in 2011.

Committing to implement transparency by publishing aid data to a common standard (International Aid Transparency Initiative) and setting a concrete deadline for implementation of this commitment, is not only commendable but is as good as it can get in terms of negotiated outcomes.

Many of us who are following the different tracks of the post-2015 development agenda negotiations (goals and finance) are now plugged into different policy conversations wondering where we can make the best impact: is it the goals? Is it the finance for development negotiations? Is it the data revolution? And how can we make sure that all those efforts we put into international agenda setting are not lost in the maze of real life implementation post-2015?

As it always happens, international conversations will likely be based on a mix of old and re-packaged problems and new challenges ahead. Conversations around a data revolution bring back old discussions around the need to harmonise data so that information can be compared and analysed reliably. For some time now, information technologies have been providing tools and new approaches to manage the vast amounts of information being generated. These were part of the motivations to agreeing on IATI, for example.

Today the same issues remain but have been multiplied exponentially. There is more information to account for from ‘beyond (traditional) aid’ flows to citizen-generated information. From information used for planning and coordination to information used to drive accountability and participation. Not to mention that technology is now in the hands of an increasing number of citizens (and governments) in both developing and developed countries- so it’s not necessarily a privilege of a few.

Going back to old and new commitments and connecting Busan and Post-2015: it will be important that current conversations are based on the lessons learned and progress made around transparency and open data for development. We do not need to start from scratch.

Furthermore, development providers participating in these debates have to get their own house in order, and demonstrate they care about implementation of international commitments by making themselves an example.

Donors have one more year to make their aid information open, comprehensive, accessible, comparable and timely by 2015. In the meantime, want to know who is on/off track? Check back with us on Wednesday.

Jeannet Lingan

Jeannet is the Advocacy Manager at Publish What You Fund. You can reach her at jeannet.lingan@publishwhatyoufund.org.
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