PRESS RELEASE: Progress on aid transparency lays foundation for further reforms to improve quality of aid, say campaigners

Aid donors made significant and welcome progress on transparency at a key summit this week providing a good foundation for further reforms needed to ensure that aid has the best possible impact, said campaign group Publish What You Fund today.

In the run up to and during the fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea, a number of donors made a crucial step forward by publishing information about their aid spending while others, including the world’s largest donor, the U.S., signed up to an international common standard which has the potential to transform the way aid is managed.

During the forum, the Asian Development Bank became the latest in a list of donors to publish data to the registry of the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), following in the footsteps of Spain, Sweden, Finland, EuropAid, UNDP and UNOPS, who all published in the run up to the meeting.

In addition to the U.S., three other donors signed up to IATI this week. The inclusion of Canada, the Inter-American Development Bank and the International Fund for Agriculture and Development takes the total number of donor signatories to 26, representing over three-quarters of international aid flows.

The concrete achievements on increasing transparency contrast with other areas where donors are lagging behind. In the final outcome document, donors recognized that progress in making aid more effective had “been uneven and neither fast nor far-reaching enough”. And key decisions on future monitoring were put off until June 2012.

Karin Christiansen, Managing Director of Publish What You Fund said: “Aid transparency emerged as a key win at this summit which was otherwise more about words than action. By signing up to the International Aid Transparency Initiative the US and Canada have decisively tipped the balance in favour of this reporting standard. Donors who remain outside the fold, such as France and Japan, should sign up immediately. Meanwhile new signatories and those who have yet to publish their implementation plans should do so as soon as possible. Then we will be able turn the significant potential of this initiative into the reality of better coordinated and thus higher impact aid.”

The Summit’s final statement placed an emphasis on partnership and the role of new donors. It was endorsed by China, India, Brazil and other emerging donors but recognized their “differential commitments” and noted that the actions were “voluntary” for them. Donors agreed to align their aid with recipient country’s systems, and to accelerate their efforts to untie aid. They reiterated promises to make their aid more predictable, and to reduce fragmentation and the proliferation of aid channels.

Notably, donors also acknowledged the need to “promote the coherence, transparency and predictability of climate finance”. The outcome document said countries would agree a set of indicators and targets to monitor their progress – but not until June 2012, prompting criticism from some campaigners. It also said that they would establish a Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation, which would replace the current Working Party on Aid Effectiveness and its associated structures.

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Contact: Amy Barry in Korea on +82 (0)1056771829 or +44 (0)7908 664397 or Claudia Elliot in London on +44 (0)20 7920 6401

Notes: The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) aims to make information about aid spending easier to find, use and compare. For more information see: http://www.aidtransparency.net/

Publish What You Fund is part of the Better Aid Open Platform: http://www.betteraid.org/

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