In less than two weeks, heads of states, representatives of civil society organisations, academia, businesses, the UN system and other stakeholders will be gathering at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit. The summit is the culmination of a process that took almost 3 years to complete. It began with a High Level Panel report on the Post-2015 development agenda and the work of the intergovernmental Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals. These led to the agreement of 17 goals and 169 targets by the UN General Assembly. The goals are intended to guide global sustainable development priorities over the next 15 years.
The 2030 development agenda is a universal one: whereas the Millennium Development Goals applied only to developing countries, the 2030 agenda applies to all countries and links the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. The agenda is challenging even for developed countries: a study by the Bertelsmann Foundation showed that none of the 34 OECD members currently met the targets. Therefore, this agenda will require strong coordinated efforts at national and international level.
At Publish What You Fund, we welcome this much expected agreement, particularly goal 16 and its targets to develop accountable and transparent institutions, public access to information; and the target for increasing data availability in goal 17. Better access to information and high quality data can lead to better decision-making, improve accountability and reduce corruption. For example, a report by the Commonwealth Education Fund shows that in Bangladesh, Ghana and Uganda citizens monitoring education budgets– including by schoolchildren – reduced corruption and led to an increase in the proportion of central government grants that reached schools.
We believe that now it is crucial that governments and stakeholders put in place transparent, participatory and accountable mechanisms to review the implementation of national and international progress from the onset.
Within this, there is a clear responsibility for all development finance providers, public and private, to step up efforts to provide timely, comprehensive and accessible information on where resources are going, how they are used and what they are delivering to reach the sustainable development commitments. As private finance will be crucial to delivering the Sustainable Development Goals, we also urge private finance providers to implement the same standards of accountability and disclosure that we expect from governments – especially when public and private money are being blended. This will build a strong foundation for better accountability and ownership of sustainable development outcomes.
The period between 2015 and 2030 is likely to be a period of enormous social and economic change worldwide. Transparency will be crucial to making sure that change benefits everyone.