Transparency is at the heart of what we do


By Manda. M. Sissoko*,  Lisandro Martin* and Natalia Toschi

Transparency implies pro-activity

Two words define transparency in the context of development: openness and sharing. Transparency is about creating access to timely, reliable, comprehensive and comparable data on development aid resource management. It should be clear how much aid is flowing into a country, where and how aid is spent, and what results are achieved.

However, openness is only one dimension of transparency.  The other is sharing lessons and knowledge about what works to support decision-making on the allocation and management of development aid resources.  While openness sets the stage, sharing determines the true dynamics of transparency. These words explain colloquially the core of the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) standard.

Becoming truly transparent is expensive: it requires investments in capacity and systems.  But the dividends are high, and in the long run, significantly outweigh costs. In this sense, the availability and ease of access to aid information are simply the means. Organizations are called on to adopt transparency standards into their operations and processes for the aim of achieving better development results.

Transparency is a transformational force

The main reason transparency matters is that it alters traditional accountability relations among development actors. With open and easily accessible information, citizens can actively participate in policy-making regarding their futures and gain ownership over their development aspirations. Informed citizens are conscious of their needs, they are empowered to hold their governments –and organizations like IFAD- accountable for their decisions, and can influence those decisions.  Likewise, timely and accessible information on future planning and flows of development financing helps donors and recipients to hold each other to account for mutual commitments. Transparency, therefore, enhances national awareness of the results achieved from aid resources and strengthens "Mutual Accountability." Finally, the comparability and comprehensiveness of information shared forms the basis for coordination and harmonization of country-level development partners' activities.

At IFAD

The IFAD11 business model recognizes that transparency is perhaps the most transformational of all the elements of a results culture.  The Fund has a long history of disclosure, and in 2010, adopted the principle of presumption of full disclosure policy. The latest business model, presented at IFAD11 Replenishment Consultation last June, proposed for IFAD11 (2019-2021) to increase the importance of transparency in all of IFAD's operations at a corporate and operational level. IFAD Management stated that "considerably more weight will be given, organization-wide, to transparency."  Transparency and Openness Action Plan is currently being developed for approval by the Executive Board in December 2017.  As part of this plan, phase I of IFAD's automatic publishing to IATI has concluded, a significant step in making the Fund fully compliant with the IATI standard.  Now, information about the Fund's approvals and disbursements is provided to IATI automatically and in real-time. A small but significant step to amplify IFAD's contributions to development results.

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