Welcome to the latest monthly roundup of news from the world of aid and development transparency.
New UK government commitments on transparency
We were pleased to see new transparency commitments from the UK government in its recent white paper on international development. The government set out its aim for British International Investment (BII) – the UK’s development finance institution (DFI) – to become the most transparent bilateral DFI, as measured by our DFI Transparency Index. It’s encouraging to see our Index used as a benchmark for good transparency by a growing number of DFIs. We hope BII’s ambition will start a race to the top. The white paper also included the commitment for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to achieve ‘very good’ in our Aid Transparency Index.
What progress has USAID made on funding its localisation agenda
Daryl Grisgraber (Oxfam America) joins Gary Forster and Sally Paxton in this blog to highlight new Oxfam America research which uses Publish What You Fund’s methodology to track the US Agency for International Development’s goal to direct 25% of funding to local actors by 2025. The analysis of eight countries finds only 4% of funding went to local actors, compared to the USAID figure of 7.3%. The research concludes that metrics matter – to realise its vision, USAID must use a narrower definition of local that doesn’t include offices of international entities, and compare this to all funds directed by USAID for development, including UN projectised funding.
2023 in review – what just happened?
2023 has seen some challenging times for the international development community, but also some glimmers of hope. At Publish What You Fund we’ve remained focused on encouraging aid and development agencies to be more transparent about their planning, spending and results. How did aid and development transparency fare in 2023? Here we roundup what we’ve been doing over the last year, the progress that’s been made and where we’re pressing for change.
How the World Bank can improve the transparency of its gender investments
The World Bank recently consulted on its draft gender strategy. In our response, we urged it to address gaps in disclosure of project and financial information related to its gender investments. Transparency plays a key role in holding the bank accountable to its gender commitments.
Collaborative UK aid transparency commitment renewed
The Bond Transparency Working Group has been collaborating with the FCDO to push for more and better transparency in the UK aid budget. This week the government released its National Action Plan 6, which contained an updated aid transparency commitment. In this blog, Elma Jenkins looks at what this means for the UK’s aid transparency and where more work is needed.
Here’s a quick roundup of other news and publications we’ve been reading over the last few weeks:
The ONE Campaign has launched the climate finance files, to show in detail how much governments and international institutions are spending to support climate-vulnerable countries, in response to what it calls confusing, slow and imprecise reporting and the ‘mess’ of climate finance accounting. The files state that climate finance commitments are vastly overstated; nearly two-thirds of climate finance commitments counted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) aren’t recorded as disbursed or have little to do with climate, which equates to US$343bn between 2013 and 2021.
Eurodad has released a new report, which charts the increased use of Private Sector Instruments. It highlights problematic gaps in transparency and accountability and makes recommendations both for the OECD DAC and wider civil society.
A report by the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities (GATC) says that donors are struggling to deliver promised climate funds directly to Indigenous Peoples and local communities. Based on input from Indigenous Peoples and local communities, analysis of donor data, and a survey of partners, the report suggests funds channeled through intermediaries ‘evaporate before reaching communities shown to excel in restoring forests and preventing deforestation’.
Meanwhile, the Forest Tenure Funders Group (FTFG) published its second annual report. The group is comprised of donor countries and philanthropic organisations that made a commitment at COP26 to deliver US$1.7bn in five years to advance forest tenure rights in tropical forest countries. According to FTFG, in 2022 its members provided US$494m in pledge-aligned funding. However, only 2.1% of funding went directly to Indigenous Peoples and local communities, compared to 2.9% in 2021.
The Reality of Aid Network and CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness have launched their new Private Sector Watch report which monitors private sector engagement in development cooperation through case studies from the network’s constituencies. Its findings include an overall lack of inclusiveness, transparency and accountability of the private sector.
UN OCHA has created a crisis page on Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) to bring together over 30 datasets related to the hostilities in Gaza. The data covers displacement, damage assessments, populated places, administrative boundaries, funding levels, and conflict events.
A Centre for Humanitarian Action study commissioned by Caritas Europa finds a notable lack of transparency among donors, with only three of the top 10 donor governments and three leading international NGOs able to demonstrate the amount of money allocated to local entities. The study ranks 20 leading government donors, UN agencies and international NGOs based on the quality of their commitment to decentralise the humanitarian aid system, with scores based on a self-perception survey, factual reporting and an assessment by local humanitarian organisations.
The Trust, Accountability and Inclusion Collaborative (formerly Transparency and Accountability Initiative) has found that funding for anti-corruption is minimal and in decline. Based on OECD and Candid Foundation Directory data, the analysis showed between 2018 – 2021/22, it represents, on average, only 0.09% of philanthropic funding and 0.12% of ODA flows.
The Center for Global Development (CGD) has summarised the key commitments coming out of COP28 – including pledges on climate finance. ODI has also given its verdict on the UAE Consensus. Meanwhile the Climate Action Network warns that the transition away from fossil fuels is at risk because of a lack of agreement on how it will be funded.
This Lowy Institute blog argues that better donor reporting is needed to properly understand which projects are targeting gender issues in the Pacific region. It suggests that OECD data on gender equality funding has significant gaps. This year’s Pacific Aid Map found that between 2008 and 2020, one-third (32%) of aid spent in the Pacific and reported to the OECD was not marked for its gender equality investment.
The Council on Foundations and Candid have produced the latest
State of Global Giving by US Foundations, using 2016-2019 data. US private and community foundations included in Candid’s Foundation 1000 dataset awarded globally focused grants totaling US$8bn in 2019.
Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network and CGD have been looking into what we can learn from two US statutes (the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act (FATAA) and the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act) that aim to promote foreign aid transparency, accountability andeffectiveness. You can catch up on their recent blog and event, focused on these statutes and their influence on US development agencies.
The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) will hold the next in-person Members’ Assembly and Community Exchange in Bogotá, Colombia on 23-25 April 2024.
A new Eurodad briefing looks at sovereign environmental, social and governance (ESG) bonds in the global south and explores some of the limitations and risks around the push for ESG financing as a way to close the SDG and climate finance gap. It considers ten key questions, including how serious is the risk of ‘greenwashing’ and how do sovereign ESG bonds respect transparency and public participation.
Sign up to receive our newsletter direct to your inbox.