Note to the High Level Panel: It ain't what you do...


If President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia really wants the latest meeting of the UN High Level Panel (HLP) on Post-2015 Development Agenda in Bali to make an impact, he could do no better than starting the meeting by quoting the prolific words of Bananarama and The Fun Boy Three. Banana-what?? Okay, so in the rather likely event that you and President Yudhoyono are not fans of 1980s UK pop music, their 1982 chart hit goes like this:

“It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it. It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it. It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it. And that’s what gets results.”

Let me explain.

The ‘what you do’: The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) quite rightly set out to tackle the ‘what we do’. They focused international and country efforts on poverty eradication and looked to improve the services (access to healthcare, education and clean water) that the poorest receive. But if accelerated progress on poverty elimination and sustainable development is to be achieved, or if we are to ‘bend the curve towards zero’ as Bono recently put it, it will require a focus not only on what is being delivered but how that delivery is taking place.

We need data for management, not reports

The ‘way that you do it’: Quite simply, the dramatic improvements in health, education and environmental sustainability offered by the post-2015 framework will not take place if governments, societies and citizens lack the power to ensure implementation happens and local solutions are developed. A ‘business as usual approach’ to post-2015 will mean a continued lack of reliable, timely and accessible information about what money is available and where it is best spent. Citizens, societies and governments will continue to work to an incomplete, and potentially inaccurate, picture of the budget, fiscal, domestic and natural resources available to end poverty. To quote Jeffrey Sachs, “we need data for management, not for reports”.

Getting results: Listening to people’s priorities and empowering them with information will help to ensure the framework meets their needs. Armed with information the post-2015 framework has the opportunity to make a quantum leap in the way that development occurs – reducing corruption, improving services and allowing more local solutions to emerge. By making the issue of information a priority in the post-2015 framework, the HLP can help to ensure that accountability is developed, informed decisions are taken, resources are spent more effectively – ultimately enabling faster progress on poverty reduction.

As the UK Government recently stated in its response to the International Development Select Committee, “In order to eradicate poverty, the foundations that enable people to improve their lives need to be established – for example, good governance, transparency, and tackling corruption. Developing goals on these issues…would usefully focus attention on these critical issues and ensure that there is global momentum behind them.”

To get this message across Development Initiatives has produced a 3 minute video explaining why information really matters to the post-2015 framework – including a very powerful case study thanks to the International Budget Partnership. You can view the video here:  watch here

Please share this film using #post2015 so that we can make sure that the post-2015 framework makes a real difference to the fight against extreme poverty (I promise it’s not a link to a Bananarama video).