Here is our usual monthly round up of news from the aid and development transparency world…
We have a new three-year strategy
The way we think and talk about aid transparency is evolving. This month we launched a new three-year strategy for Publish What You Fund – setting out how we want to work and what we want to achieve by 2024. We are moving towards a definition of transparency which includes not just publication but engagement and accountability. We have also been reviewing the language we use and reflecting on our position and power. Our three key focus areas for the next three years are:
- Engaging with data: Collaborating to ensure that actors engage around development data and that this data is used to contribute to improved outcomes and achievement of local, national, and global development goals, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- Full transparency: Making all aid and development finance data transparent, available and usable.
- More quality data: Strengthening and extending our research, advocacy and technical expertise to improve the quality and usability of aid and development finance information.
A new blog from our Chair, Paul Lenz, and CEO, Gary Forster, provides more insights into our thinking, focus areas and goals.
Introducing the DFI Transparency Tool
We are delighted to introduce the DFI Transparency Tool, the culmination of two years of collaboration and research, and our assessment of the disclosure practices of the world’s leading multilateral and bilateral development finance institutions (DFIs). The DFI Transparency Tool will support efforts by DFIs to disclose information to aid understanding of their true impact. The tool provides detailed, granular guidance to DFIs on the information they should disclose and offers an actionable plan to deliver sector-wide improvements in transparency. We will also use the tool as a framework to measure DFI transparency in a public index in late 2022.
Our research highlighted:
- The current lack of DFI transparency makes it difficult to see what DFIs are doing, what impact their investments are making, whether they are adhering to their accountability and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) responsibilities, and to what extent they are successfully crowding in the private sector.
- Enhanced transparency is necessary to understand whether DFIs are fulfilling their mandates including developmental impact, market building, and accountability.
- Claims of commercial confidentiality need to be challenged. While there are valid claims of sensitivity that preclude disclosure, much purportedly confidential information is found in the public domain. Investees have shown a willingness to disclose more information and we found examples where some DFIs are providing information that others claim is confidential.
- DFIs are open to adopting a new harmonised approach to data disclosure to improve the availability, timeliness and comparability of investment and policy information. The DFI Transparency Tool can contribute to this approach.
Watch now: Greater transparency for development finance institutions
In case you missed it, you can catch up on our launch event, hosted by the Brookings Institution, here. As well as keynote remarks from former President and CEO of OPIC, Rob Mosbacher, and a presentation of the tool by our CEO Gary Forster, it features an insightful discussion from DFIs, CSOs and the private sector on the opportunities for improved DFI transparency. Elizabeth Boggs Davidsen from the US Development Finance Corporation described the tool as its ‘north star’ as it seeks to improve disclosure practices, while Tom Edmonston-Low from European Bank for Reconstruction and Development committed to using the tool for its upcoming review. You can watch a 9-minute clip from the event’s conclusion below, when panelists summarized their views on transparency and the tool.
A new blog from the event’s host, George Ingram of Brookings Institution, picks out some of the highlights from the launch and considers why the transparency of development finance could be on the cusp of a march forward.
Aid delivery chains, organisation networking and the new Networked data indicator
Towards the end of last year, we began a review of the Aid Transparency Index assessment method. High on our list of priorities was the issue of networking and linking of aid data, and how we might measure this in the Index assessment. If we can understand how money and finance flows through and across delivery chains we can gain insights into how the aid system works, make it more accountable and improve coordination. In this blog, Alex Tilley provides an update on our review and the inclusion of the new Networked data indicator in the 2022 Index.
Who funds women’s economic empowerment – a data journey
Our Women’s Economic Empowerment team is tracking funding flows to women’s economic empowerment, women’s financial inclusion and women’s empowerment collectives in six country case studies. In order to build a rich and thorough picture of funding flows – including from major OECD-DAC donors and non-traditional donors, NGOs and women’s funds, and large US and global philanthropies – we are using a variety of data sources. In this blog, Elma Jenkins describes our journey (and the challenges we encountered) to access, merge, clean and use unique datasets on funding flows for women’s economic empowerment in a way not done before.
Gender financing must become more transparent
In a new opinion piece for Devex, AWID’s Tenzin Dolker and Publish What You Fund’s Jamie Holton and Henry Lewis explore how COVID-19 heightened funding challenges for women’s rights organisations, and why it is crucial for donors to engage with feminist movements and organisations, increase the transparency of their funding and support transformative change towards gender equality.
Seeking country-based consultants- women’s economic empowerment- Uganda, Ethiopia and Pakistan
We are looking for individual consultants with research and advocacy experience based in Uganda, Ethiopia and Pakistan to support research and advocacy work for our Women’s Economic Empowerment project. Our study is mapping funding to women’s economic empowerment, women’s financial inclusion and women’s empowerment collectives, as well as assessing which donors have a gender integration approach. If you are an experienced researcher with expertise in women’s economic empowerment, a strong communicator with good stakeholder management skills please get in touch. Full details of the assignment, timeframe and how to apply are available in our terms of reference.
Blended finance and transparency
Publish What You Fund contributed an opinion piece to Convergence’s flagship report, The State of Blended Finance 2021. The report surveyed the trends in blended finance operations over the preceding year, and found that blended finance flows were significantly lower compared to historical financing trends (~$4.5 billion in 2020, 50% less compared to 2019). Our contribution highlights the need for transparency from DFIs in their blended finance activities across three themes. First, we argue that DFIs should follow the lead of the IFC in disclosing the levels of concessionality involved in their blended finance deals. Second, DFIs should publish ex-post impact data for their blended finance investments. Finally, DFIs should disclose the levels of private sector mobilisation that their blended finance operations achieve.
Here’s a selection of news stories we’ve been reading over the last few weeks:
In a new report, the World Bank has highlighted the lack of public disclosures about government debt in low-income countries, making it more difficult for governments to restructure their loans. As this Devex article reports, the lack of transparency is also pushing up borrowing costs, making it harder to service the debt.
This Financial Times article looks into the detail of the $100 billion climate finance target, and the lack of agreement on how it should be spent, how to ensure it is used effectively and how it should be measured.
After two years of field testing and feedback, the Centre for Humanitarian Data has finalized the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Data Responsibility Guidelines, which offer principles, processes and tools to support OCHA’s data work. Data responsibility is defined as the safe, ethical and effective management of data for operational response.
The Center for Global Development has published new analysis of China’s growing participation and investment in multilateral development institutions and funds. China now occupies a uniquely influential role in the multilateral system, as donor, shareholder, client, and commercial partner. This can mean increased buy-in to high standards for transparency, but also raises some governance concerns, such as the growing dominance of Chinese firms in multilateral procurement.
New Eurodad research on tied aid finds that more than one in every five dollars of bilateral and EU aid was reported as tied in 2018.
Research by the World Bank compares data reported by official donors to the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) and Creditor Reporting System with data reported by recipient governments to the World Bank Debtor Reporting System. During 2010-2019, private finance grew by 10% a year while official (i.e., public) finance grew by 2% a year. While in 2010 public finance represented 64% of total financial flows to developing countries, by 2019 public and private flows were almost equal.