The Fourth High Level Forum (HLF) on Aid Effectiveness (29 November – 1 December) is faced with the significant challenge of building upon agreements from HLFs, in Rome, Paris and Accra that have (at best) a variable record of delivering real results (OECD 2011 Survey on Monitoring the Paris Declaration). So why do we think Busan is any different? As potentially the most significant international aid meeting of the past decade, the truth is, it needs to be and the tentative signs are that it is.
At the meeting, over 2000 policy makers and practitioners and over 100 government ministers are putting the spotlight on development aid and its role in reducing poverty. To date, 26 organisations, together accounting for around just over half of global aid spending, are now International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) signatories. In addition, 22 developing countries have endorsed IATI, and other organisations and developing countries participate as observers. Given that high level discussions around the next steps needed to improve transparency of information are happening as we speak, it is pleasing to report that there is already some positive news. With the right application, commitments at these forums really can matter.
IATI aims to make information about aid spending easier to access, use and understand, and to help donors and recipients meet their commitments on aid transparency. It has created a common standard for the publication of aid information and has produced an online registry where aid information published by donors can be located.
Development Initiatives (DI), through aidinfo, has a presence at the Busan meeting and is helping to make sure that IATI receives the attention it needs to improve aid transparency on a global scale.
Busan’s legacy in this area will be judged by how well it sets a compelling agenda for the future of transparency at a time when the remit of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) enters the final three years, donor countries undergo financial retrenchment at home bringing pressures on aid budgets (and public support), and emerging / non-DAC donors rightfully take an ever increasing role in negotiations with growing impact (see our recent report on non-DAC donors and humanitarian aid). A lot lies in the balance. Within this turbulent context the impact, value for money, and role of aid in improving lives are to be closely examined alongside progress towards meeting those MDGs.
DI works with many partners to ensure that resources are more effectively directed, and that people are empowered to make evidence-based, data-informed decisions. We believe greater transparency around what resources are going where, from whom, when and by what means will enable donors to more appropriately plan budgets and allocate resources to make the greatest contribution possible to poverty reduction.
Global Humanitarian Assistance (GHA) and aidinfo, DI’s dual programmes, contribute to this agenda. Here at GHA we work to provide better visibility of the resources available to people in humanitarian crises, and aidinfo focuses upon increased transparency and accountability of aid, and helps to drive the IATI agenda.
These few days bring challenges, but the rewards are there for the taking.
For context around the aid history of the meeting’s host country, the Republic of Korea, see GHA’s recent profile.