Publish What You Fund – an organisation campaigning for greater transparency in aid and international development – launched their Aid Transparency Index 2014 yesterday. The report’s overall message is that despite making several international transparency commitments, the vast majority of the world’s donors are still not sharing useful information about their aid spending. And here are some of the other key findings:
- There are some excellent examples of best practice emerging. A number of organisations are now using open data platforms driven by IATI data, marking an important shift from publishing raw data to visualising it in a meaningful way for users.
- As the development community looks to the future to define its goals over the coming years, it is important to reflect on progress to date, particularly on the commitments made and the lessons learnt from delivering them.
- While significant progress was made in the early days of aid transparency in terms of donors committing to share information on their aid activities in a more comprehensive, comparable, accessible and timely manner by publishing to the IATI Standard, the 2014 Aid Transparency Index (ATI) findings show that progress on implementation continues to be slow and uneven.
- In order to realise the transformative potential of open data in improving development effectiveness, the donor community needs to coordinate better to drive forward collective action on aid transparency and learn from the emerging best practice examples.
Best performers and big improvers
- The top ranking agency is the UNDP with a score of 91%. The UK Department for International Development, the Millennium Challenge Corporation and GAVI come close on the heels of UNDP, all scoring above 85% and performing well on most indicators.
- Some high performing organisations from the 2013 ATI, including the AfDB, AsDB, Canada, three EC agencies – DG Enlargement, DG DEVCO and the Service for Foreign Policy Instruments – the Global Fund, IADB, Sweden, UNICEF and World Bank IDA have performed even better in 2014, with an increase in absolute scores since 2013, placing them in the good or very good categories.
- These organisations are joined by others such as Finland, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development (MAEDI), the Gates Foundation, PEPFAR, Spain and Switzerland, which have all started publishing more current information on their activities to the IATI Registry in 2014, effectively leapfrogging others that have not made any significant changes to the amount or accessibility of the information they publish.
Worst performers and slow movers
- As in 2013, China takes the last place, scoring just 2%, and nine others, including the German Foreign Office (known as Auswärtiges Amt or AA) and the UK Ministry of Defence score less than 10%. Some other influential providers including the French Ministry of Economy and Finance, Italy and the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs also perform very poorly, placing them alongside several of the newer EU member states towards the bottom of the ranking.
- Several others including Belgium, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank, World Bank IFC, the IMF, Norway, USAID and the U.S. Department of Defense have declined in the ranking relative to 2013.
- The U.S. Department of the Treasury has the biggest drop in score and ranking.
Rachel Rank, Publish What You Fund, said:
“A lot of progress was made at the political level in the early days of aid transparency, including a promise to publish aid information to an internationally-agreed common standard by the end of 2015. But with a year to go until that deadline, progress has stalled. The ranking shows that no matter how many international promises are made, and no matter how many speeches there are around openness, a startling amount of organisations are still not publishing what they fund.”
TBC Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigerian Minister of Finance, said:
“From Malawi to Moldova, we’ve seen some clear-cut country successes since the Busan High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in 2011, but the ATI results show that more needs to be done. With the clock ticking towards the 2015 deadline, and the next global development framework now well underway, we must all work to make aid transparent with a shared sense of urgency and determination.”
Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator, said:
“Transparency is core to our mission. We are gratified to be recognized for our efforts to operate in an open, transparent manner. UNDP is committed to working in the open to spark innovation, to ensure the best possible use of funds entrusted to it and to accelerate the development of a sustainable future for all.”
Ambassador Deborah Birx, Global AIDS Coordinator, said:
“PEPFAR is committed to working with partners to deliver an AIDS-free generation. This is only possible by using data that are digestible, understandable, transparent, and actionable to improve program impact with sustainable results.”
Dalitso Kubalasa, Malawi Economic Justice Network, said:
“The ATI is an important measure of donors’ commitments to greatly help make their aid transparent – which is something we have asked for (and we will continue asking for) again and again. Donors must continue to push themselves to publish all the information as it can genuinely increase chances of making aid work better and much more effectively. If donors want to truly see the maximum value for their aid, they must walk the talk of transparency and accountability; with no any element of double standards in a true spirit of partnership. They must intensify publishing all information on their development cooperation properly to achieve all the intended development results.”
Linda McAvan, Chair of the European Parliament’s Development Committee said:
“Greater transparency on aid flows is absolutely critical to enabling parliamentarians and civil society organisations to hold policymakers to account. We need to ensure we are able provide European taxpayers with assurances that their money is being spent in the most effective way possible.”