Less than 24 hours ago Article 19 hosted ‘Transparency, Free Flow of Information and the Millennium Development Goals Conference 2010’ in London. The meeting brought together right to information, aid and extractive industries transparency, and aid effectiveness and anti-corruption organisations including International Budget Partnership, Transparency International, ONE and representatives from the UN, media, and developing country CSOs. All came together for a dynamic discussion of the necessity of access to information in poverty reduction ahead of the MDG Summit on 20-22nd September in New York.
There was consensus that the free flow of information and transparency is crucial to achieving the MDGs. However, transparency is only the first step and needs to be linked to accountability and impact, and fostered by an environment that enables and encourages active participation in public decision making. Information must be accessible, not only as data files online, but in a usable, comprehensive format to anyone that may want to find out where aid money is going. Tracking spending and financial information will give the best insight to what is happening on the ground.
Stories highlighting the necessity and potential impact of transparency were shared. These included the appointment of government officials in Cambodia and the lack of public access to national government budgets. A campaign monitoring the lack of basic information provided on request by governments on maternal health, environment and aid effectiveness exposed ‘deplorable’ results.
The transparency community hopes that development leaders will now take note of the urgency and necessity of integrating transparency and free flow of information into their strategies for achieving the MDGs, and in their wider development efforts.