Will the High Level Panel measure up to expectations?

UN accountable

Photograph by Transparency International

Chairing a meeting can be difficult: overrunning timetables, absence of real-time information, inability to track commitments, lack of accountability. This is never more so than when the room is made up of world leading politicians, diplomats and economists. So when President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf opened today’s High Level Panel negotiations these issues should have been top of mind – not just for the running of the meeting but for the post-2015 framework as a whole.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have amply illustrated the difficulties of trying to assess progress and maintain accountability on poverty targets. While some MDG monitoring data are reasonably complete and timely, such as the child and maternal mortality indicators for goals four and five, others are geographically patchy and often very out of date. For example, data for monitoring gender equality in education dates from 1999. As economist Jeffrey Sachs has highlighted, “the lack of timely data [is a] key weakness” of the MDG process. This doesn’t have to be the case.

Open for Development

Development Initiatives, along with 12 organisations* from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, and the United States, is supporting a new report from the ONE Campaign: Open for Development. The report makes the case for openness, transparency, accountability and participation to be at the heart of the post-2015 framework, ensuring that the world does a better job of tracking investments and results. In short, it proposes:

  • Open and transparent design process, ensuring that input from citizens in developing countries forms the core of the new global development goals.
  • All developing and developed countries to provide consistent and timely reporting on investments and outcomes related to achieving the new goals – including through citizen participation.
  • New investments in statistical capacity and open data systems to give citizens and policymakers ways to use relevant information to hold governments and other stakeholders accountable.

Empowerment of all citizens is key

Accountabtility South Africa

Photograph by International Budget Partnership

The report complements DI’s request to have access to information as a goal in its own right in the post-2015 framework. If this framework is to go beyond service provision to deliver sustained and equitable poverty eradication, then it must prioritise the empowerment of all citizens to exercise choice and control over their own lives.

As the Monrovia meeting draws to a close it is time to ensure that the High Level Panel embraces an open agenda, empowers citizens and puts the measurement of the post-2015 development agenda on the right track.

The full version of the ‘Open for Development’ report is available here.

You can sign the ONE Campaign’s petition supporting the proposals here.

The full version of Development Initiatives paper outlining a goal on access to information is available here.

An example of how access to information can save lives

Ugandan-villageIn a randomised control trial in Uganda, users of clinics were given access to data and qualitative information on local healthcare funding. The result was a huge improvement in health services: waiting times and healthcare staff absenteeism decreased, clinics became cleaner, fewer drugs were stolen and there was a 33% decrease in under-five child mortality. In total, 550 lives in a region with a mere 55,000 households.

The trial found that the effects of access to information were more powerful in homogenous communities but, more significantly, were increased with the mediation and involvement of civil society organisations.

*Our partners for this action alongside the ONE Campaign include Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL), Fundar (Mexico), Global Witness, Global Movement for Budget Transparency, Accountability and Participation, Integrity Action, International Budget Partnership, Luta Hamutuk Institute (Timor Leste), Publish What You Fund, Publish What You Pay, Revenue Watch Institute, Transparency International, and W3C (Brazil).