Launching the DFI Transparency Initiative
We’re very pleased to report that we’re embarking on a new initiative aimed at working collaboratively with Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) and other stakeholders to increase the transparency of DFIs. Through this 2 ½ year project, we are looking at the use of public money by DFIs to meet global development goals. As more and more development aid is channelled through private institutions, we will use a multi-stakeholder approach to advocate for greater transparency and accountability of DFIs.
Despite their rising prominence, very few DFIs share information on their private sector portfolios. This makes it both difficult to assess their development impact and to learn from different projects and approaches. Greater transparency can start to lay the foundation for more informed decision making, more accountability and better allocation of resources.
The new oceans of UK aid information: what does the data reveal?
Throughout 2019 we have been conducting a transparency review of 10 UK government departments and two cross-government funds. As these departments have come to understand the details of our methodology, learn about the International Aid Transparency Initiative standard and invest in the systems and processes to enable greater transparency, there has been a steady increase in the number of departments providing data, and the comprehensiveness of this data. Consequently, there is now a lot more information freely available on UK aid spending which until as recently as August was simply not available. In a new blog, Elma Jenkins reflects on the newly available data, what it tells us about UK aid spending and the many questions it raises.
A thank you and announcing our new Chair
The team and Board at Publish What You Fund would like to thank Giles Bolton for his service as Chair of the Board of Trustees. Thankfully Giles is going to remain on the Board but his role as Chair will be taken on by Paul Lenz. Giles was elected to the Board of Trustees in May 2016 and immediately inherited the role of Chair. He has overseen Publish What You Fund during a period of transition, leading the recruitment of our current CEO Gary Forster in the summer of 2018, and helped to build the foundations of an organisation which is now experiencing exciting growth. Speaking on behalf of the team Gary Forster said “we would like to thank Giles for the time and passion he has contributed to the cause. His practical understanding of the reality of aid programming, from his time in Kenya, Iraq and Rwanda, underpin an inquisitive and strategic mind which has helped Publish What You Fund grapple with some of the bigger questions now facing the aid transparency community”.
Paul is currently the Trust Executive at The Indigo Trust which funds organisations using digital technologies to improve transparency and accountability in Sub-Saharan Africa. Paul originally joined the Publish What You Fund board in June 2015, and we’re looking forward to working more closely with Paul in the coming months.
In other news…
And here’s a quick round up of what else we’ve been reading over the last month…
Global Witness and Action Aid have issued a briefing on the new EU Investor Disclosure Regulation. Under the new rules, European investors, such as banks, pension funds and insurers, will now need to be transparent about the principal adverse impacts their investments have on people and planet and publish details of their due diligence policies to make sure they can systematically identify, prevent and mitigate and account for those adverse impacts. EU member states will have until May 2021 to fully implement these rules.
Brookings Senior Fellow Tony Pipa has written about the new way Official Development Assistance (ODA) is calculated to take into account private flows and concessional loans. He discusses some of the complications and the importance of the OECD Development Assistance Committee addressing the challenges.
The Global Reporting Initiative has launched a tax transparency reporting standard, aimed at preventing billions in tax going into corporate tax havens. Developed in consultation with businesses, investors, civil society groups, labour organisations, accounting firms and tax experts, the new standard ushers in robust public country by country reporting measures.
The Center for Global Development has proposed a new public-private actor to accelerate high-risk, high impact investments at scale: The Stretch Fund. It argues that the Stretch Fund would sit in between grant makers and commercial impact investors, with a different risk tolerance and financial objective, and an emphasis on development impact. The proposed fund would partner with DFIs in ways that stretch their range of investments, spectrum of clients, scope of investible markets, and scale and mobilization of finance.
In the latest update from the International Aid Transparency Initiative’s technical team, Wendy Thomas writes about the recently launched Datastore, Validator and SDG guidance.
The Tipping Point Fund has been launched by a group of nine foundations with $12.5 million in funding. It seeks to provide collective support for the type of field-building work that will allow impact investing to grow “with integrity.” According to this Devex article, the fund will have two central focuses to start: public engagement and public policy to help grow the industry; and data, metrics, and measurement to provide clarity as it develops.