Reinventing foreign aid: send us your views

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By Pierre Jacquet, President of the Global Development Network

 

Official Development Assistance (ODA) has long been an important resource for development. But despite its long history and the lessons learned, its current definition, measurement and operation hinder donors from building a convincing narrative and seriously limit its effectiveness.

This very timely topic is much in need of fresh thinking.

That is why the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Global Development Network have partnered to launch the Next Horizons global essay competition designed to generate innovative ideas on the future of development assistance.

In the hope of inspiring reactions and innovative essays, let me provocatively claim that the aid system has remained trapped in a mostly solidarity-driven paradigm, in which spending more taxpayers’ money for development is dictated not by impact but by a sort of beauty contest among donors against a background of political pressure from beneficiaries to get more. The intrinsic tension between a duty of international solidarity and an imperative of effectiveness has of course been recognised, and the past decade has witnessed efforts to build aid and development effectiveness, notably through the Paris, Accra and Busan declarations. However, these policy prescriptions have paid insufficient regard to the framework of incentives directing donors’ and recipients’ behaviours.

Recognising this flaw, some critics have jumped to the conclusion that aid is wasted and that the system should be dismantled. We believe, to the contrary, that the aid system needs to be modernised and strengthened, and that a new narrative and a new measurement system are urgently needed, in line with the evolution of the world economy and of public policies, and with the emerging United Nations post-2015 development agenda.

A few themes may merit special attention. First, the current challenges of the world economy and post-2015 discussions make the dangers of working in silos clearer than ever. Yet we still see uncoordinated approaches from various actors (governments, private sector, NGOs, international organisations, foundations), or action targeted to individual sectors that ignores interaction between sectors. Food, health, infrastructures, water and energy are all deeply connected. More than ever, the role of aid should not be to “do” things through financing them, but to get them done by leveraging and catalysing other resources and energies in innovative ways. This resonates with the work of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation, which aims to connect the various players and build new forms of development partnership between governments, civil society, private sector, international organisations and foundations.

Second, relevant and contextualised knowledge is needed to identify and understand interactions and synergies, to act effectively and to address specific problems. However, the production and dissemination of knowledge is still concentrated in developed countries’ premier research centres and universities.

GDNquote1More development assistance should go towards helping local researchers, so that they can produce local knowledge with global credibility to inform the development debate and policy. This is the mission of the Global Development Network.

We must dare to leave the illusory comfort of concrete and measurable achievements and enter the murky world of people and processes – with the long term objective of empowerment. This clearly challenges the current approach to aid effectiveness, and inviting new methods of measuring results. The present essay competition is an opportunity for scholars the world over to contribute their suggestions. The debate on aid effectiveness should not be left to donors alone.

Third, notwithstanding provider countries’ repeated promises of meeting the 0.7% target for aid as a percentage of their gross national income, the years and possibly decades ahead will be those of tight budget constraints for public policies in most donor countries. This constraint should be transformed into an opportunity. New and imaginative means must found to leverage taxpayers’ money, echoing the role of aid as a catalyst already mentioned. This requires new competences for donors – understanding market failures and working out how aid can address them; and analysing and understand risk, so as to crowd-in, rather than crowd-out, the private sector, without piling-up bad risks on their balance sheets. None of this means that aid should no longer be an expression of international solidarity. But solidarity must be combined with effectiveness to make things happen that would not otherwise take place and that effectively contribute to development.

On these and other issues, we want to hear your voices and ideas to submit your 5,000 word entry in the GDN Next Horizons Essay Contest 2014 before the deadline of September 15, 2014.


JacquetbioPierre Jacquet is the President of the Global Development Network (GDN). He was formerly Chief Economist (2002-2012) and Executive Director in charge of strategy (2002-2010) of the French Development Agency (AFD). From 1995 to 2012, he was also Chairman of the Department of Economics and Social Sciences of the French Graduate Engineering School Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées. Preceding AFD, he was Deputy Director of the French Institute on International Relations (IFRI), where he was responsible for the economic program and was Chief Editor of IFRI’s quarterly review Politique Etrangère.

Time to make sure young people help to rewrite the rules of development

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By Mark Nowottny, Policy and Practice Director, Restless Development

 
It’s not always immediately obvious why young people should care about effective development co-operation. Even for those in development circles, it has been the inclusive and broad-based process of shaping the next Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – the “whatof development – that has perhaps most captured the imagination.

But there’s a provocative argument going around. It goes something like this: over past months, the development community has been transfixed with and channelled its energy into shaping the SDGs, with each actor lobbying hard for specific causes like gender, disability, or inequality. But now that the shape of the Goals is starting to emerge in the latest results from the Open Working Group, it’s looking possible that history will judge the biggest changes to have come not in what the world wants by way of development, but on how it delivers it.

There are a number of concurrent processes including the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (GPEDC), the UN Development Co-operation Forum (UNDCF) and the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing (ICESDF). That’s a whole lot of letters – 16 to be precise. Still, things have been moving along swiftly beneath the impenetrable acronyms, albeit without the same visibility afforded to the post-2015 process. Ask most civil society groups about these processes and they might tell you the same thing: the most important, and as yet unanswered, question is how to make sure that development financing from the private sector is underpinned by strong accountability frameworks and human rights principles. Put this together with other radical shifts in the development co-operation landscape – not least the emergence of the BRICS’ New Development Bank last month – and there are plenty of reasons why young people should be focusing their energies as much on effective development co-operation as they are on the new global goals.

And youth are indeed getting vocal. In April this year, Restless Development, the youth-led development agency putting young people at the forefront of development, brought a delegation of seven young global leaders to the Global Partnership High Level Meeting in Mexico. There, they shared key messages and asks with decision-makers around youth participation, summarised in a blog we wrote at the time. When the Global Partnership Steering Committee Co-Chairs rotated in July, our same delegates called on the new Co-Chairs to understand youth as leaders (not just partners or beneficiaries), to give youth a leadership role in the governance of the Global Partnership, and to give them a structured role in monitoring the commitments made by governments through the Global Partnership. Most recently this last August 7 and 8, the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE, the leading civil society platform) hosted their first ever global youth meeting in Brussels to plot what structured youth engagement might look like.

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The new Global Partnership Co-Chairs, perhaps more than anyone else, have an opportunity to recast the role of youth in writing the new rules of development.

 

So, collectively, what could we now do to make sure that young people become systematically involved in rewriting the rules of development?

First, Those charged with the governance of the GPEDC, UNDCF and ICESDF need to hardwire permanent youth participation into the way they work. This could involve creating a youth sub- or shadow committee, giving young people a central role in organising events and meetings, making funding available for youth delegates to take part in meetings, and communicating with a growing constituency of interested young people all year round and not just when major summits happen.

Second, the GPEDC, UNDCF and ICESDF need to co-ordinate on how they’re going to open up to and actively reach out to youth. Even the most interested young people are at risk of drowning in alphabet soup. They want to get to grips with the issues, the power relationships, and changing the world for the better rather than spending limited time understanding the peculiarities of bureaucracies and getting their foot in the door of three separate and overly complex intergovernmental processes.

Finally, between them, youth and civil society need to build a platform or mechanism fit for purpose and able to navigate and consolidate the diverse views of young people. Young people have multiple identities and ideologies, and they need spaces to work through these if they’re to form powerful shared positions where they do have common cause. In Mexico’s High-Level Meeting, different delegations from youth and civil society rarely strategised enough together. The CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness remains an option for convening these different actors under one platform, but the successful experience of the Major Group of Children and Youth reminds us that youth are actually often highly efficient at organising themselves when given the tiniest space and support.

The new Global Partnership Co-Chairs, perhaps more than anyone else, have an opportunity to recast the role of youth in writing the new rules of development. But civil society, youth and those running concurrent intergovernmental processes must all play their part.


NowottnyMark Nowottny joined Restless Development, the youth-led development agency putting young people at the heart of development, as their new Policy and Practice Director in April 2014. Previously, Mark was Head of Strategy at CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, the global civil society alliance based in Johannesburg. You can follow him on Twitter: @MarkNowottny @RestlessDev.

Why partnering with the private sector is key to inclusive growth

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By Lakshmi Venkatachalam, Vice-President of Private Sector and Cofinancing Operations, Asian Development Bank

 
Over the past couple of decades, no one can deny that the Asia and the Pacific region has represented a remarkable success story. Absolute poverty levels have fallen significantly and the region is on course to achieve a number of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

But more than 1.6 billion people in the region continue to live on less than USD 2 a day and remain vulnerable to shocks — whether economic or environmental. The region is also confronting widening inequalities and the challenge of enabling a decent quality of life.

A strong need remains for both dedicated knowledge support and for financing to address the region’s social and infrastructure gaps, including urgent measures to address climate change.

Over the past few years, policymakers and development finance institutions (DFIs) have increasingly looked to the private sector to help meet these financing needs. In the right investment climate, the private sector can support the inclusive and environmentally sustainable growth that is at the heart of the global development agenda.

A key contribution of the private sector is in promoting economic growth, which it does through investments, knowledge transfer, and enhanced productivity. By creating new markets, fostering competition, and making investments, the private sector helps allocate resources productively and efficiently, improving prospects for economic growth. Economic growth generates resources that can be used for future investment as well as social development.

According to the World Bank, the private sector is the source of nearly 90% of the world’s jobs. So by providing direct employment, as well as finance to the sectors and geographic regions where it is most needed, the private sector promotes not just growth — it promotes inclusive growth.

The private sector also helps to boost living standards. This extends beyond extreme poverty as captured in the MDGs to areas such as the availability and quality of goods and services such as housing, infrastructure, health, and education. In this context, the private sector also plays a critical role in improving service delivery through public-private partnerships. These are particularly relevant in the case of infrastructure, as they allow for risk sharing, and are benefitting from improved institutional capacity and clearer legal and regulatory frameworks.

The private sector can also promote the adoption and/or retrofitting of environment-friendly technologies. This is valuable in the face of climate change, which can adversely impact many critical development goals such as food security, health, and water. The largest mitigation opportunities, especially for energy efficiency, remain in middle income countries.

Lastly, the private sector is a reliable source of revenue for government operations through its contributions to taxes and duties.

Given these advantages, it is not surprising that DFIs have come together relatively quickly to agree on a core set of principles that would guide support for private sector initiatives. These include commercial sustainability, promotion of high standards and additionality – that is, the extent to which a new input or action can add to already existing ones. More importantly, the private sector itself, not least due to the fall-out from the global financial crisis, has begun to reexamine its role in promoting economic growth as well as its responsibility to society. It is therefore increasingly open to engagement on these issues, particularly with DFIs.

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Asia and the Pacific’s financing needs are indeed daunting. We, the multilateral development banks, need to engage the private sector on all fronts to an even greater extent than we currently do, to leverage both finance and knowledge.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has long recognised the private sector as a key driver of change in attaining its three long-term strategic agendas of inclusive growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. In line with our commitment to transparency, ADB publishes the annual Development Effectiveness Review, with 89 performance indicators to assess progress in implementing these priorities. The dedicated 2013 private sector operations Development Effectiveness Report was published on July 25th.

With $1.8 billion approved in 2013, our Private Sector Operations Department provides comprehensive financial assistance including loans, equity investments, guarantees, cofinancing and technical assistance. Our clients are private companies, banks and financial institutions, investment funds and state-owned enterprises. All our private sector interventions are aimed at maximising development impact. In doing so, our aim is to supplement or complement commercial finance, particularly in areas where perceived or persistent market gaps are inhibiting private investments.

What can ADB contribute to effective development co-operation with the private sector? Firstly, we are an Asian institution with a long and stable relationship with developing countries in the region. Based on the foundation of our strong infrastructure and financial sector exposure, we are increasingly entering sectors where we see promising potential for sustainable inclusive business models, such as agribusiness, education and health. Our strength lies in the synergies we derive from our sovereign operations in the core areas of policy and regulatory support.

Our private sector portfolio has more than doubled since 2006, totaling $6,219 million in 2013, comprising 155 accounts and 140 projects in 20 countries. Aligned with ADB’s core specialisations and sector priorities across individual member countries, 96% of the portfolio supports infrastructure, environment, and finance sector development.

Asia and the Pacific’s financing needs are indeed daunting. We, the multilateral development banks, need to engage the private sector on all fronts to an even greater extent than we currently do, to leverage both finance and knowledge.


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Lakshmi Venkatachalam is the Vice-President (Private Sector and Cofinancing Operations) of Asian Development Bank since June 2010, leading ADB’s private sector initiatives and cofinancing activities. Based on the Midterm Review of its Strategy 2020, ADB’s activities in private sector development and private sector operations are targeted to reach 50% of its annual operations by 2020.

Civil Society’s Campaign for Effective Development: the Istanbul Principles

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By Patricia Blankson Akakpo, CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness

How has civil society adjusted to the shift in global dialogue from aid to development effectiveness? Civil society has been at the forefront of campaigning for effective development, while still recognising that aid has the potential to help eliminate the root causes, as well as the symptoms of poverty, inequality and marginalisation.

Under the banner of the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE), civil society has committed to the three-year programme “Civil Society Continuing Campaign for Effective Development.”

The programme, announced at the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation’s High-Level Meeting in Mexico in April 2014, aims to make several concrete contributions to global development. At the end of the three years, CSOs in at least 50 countries should be able to claim their rights in multi-stakeholder development effectiveness policy arenas, as well as working on their own effectiveness. By then, CSO advocacy positions should also be clearly influencing global development and development co-operation policies. Finally, multi-stakeholder initiatives should be advancing an enabling environment for CSOs at relevant national, sub-regional, regional and global policy arenas.

Looking at our own effectiveness

In the two years since Busan, CSOs around the world have been actively promoting the Istanbul Principles for CSO Development Effectiveness and the International Framework for CSO Development Effectiveness. Hundreds of CSOs at the country level have developed initiatives to assess and improve their practice to make sure development has more positive effects on the lives of poor and marginalised people.

CPDEquoteDespite strong evidence of shrinking spaces for CSOs as independent development actors, stories of good development practices attest to the commitment of CSOs to work in ways that are consistent with the principles of development effectiveness.

For example, a “Training of Trainers” workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa involved 45 trainers from around the world to develop regional plans and advance development effectiveness in their region. Codes of conduct, workshops and learning tools have been adapted to country contexts to increase awareness of the Principles and their practical implications. This work includes promotion of the Principles with official aid provider agencies and partner country governments; workshops to strengthen Human Rights-Based Approaches to development co-operation; promoting gender equality as an essential condition for CSO development effectiveness; and developing tools and workshops to strengthen understanding of development relationships that reflect equitable partnerships. Finally, CSO are working to be more transparent and fully accountable for their development efforts.

Reflecting on emerging results

These efforts are starting to show results. For instance, the Istanbul Principles helped grassroots communities in Cameroon to participate in local development plans. They also helped establish five citizens’ councils across the country to give the people a voice in local governance.

In Georgia last year, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between local CSOs and the Parliament, officially endorsing the Istanbul Principles. The MOU institutionalised policy dialogue based on mutual respect, trust and fair co-operation between legislative bodies and CSOs —reflecting the beginnings of equitable partnerships and solidarity.

In Asia, CSOs in Cambodia developed their own Code of Ethical Principles and Minimum Standards for NGOs to support their work on their own organisational practices. Cambodian CSOs also played a pivotal role in developing their own self-regulation system to practice transparency and accountability.

CSOs’ commitment to maximising their development impact is starting to bear fruit, as shown by some of the many examples of CSOs working on their own effectiveness and accountability as independent development actors.

Continuing the Campaign

The fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness held in Busan in 2011 was a breakthrough in its acknowledgement of the link between effective CSO work and the conditions that enable them to maximise their contributions to development. The policies and practices of governments, donors and the private sector all affect and shape CSOs’ capacity to engage in development practices. Progress in realising effective development, therefore, depends not only on CSO initiatives but also equality among all stakeholders involved in shaping the global development architecture.

Despite strong evidence of shrinking spaces for CSOs as independent development actors, stories of good development practices attest to the commitment of CSOs to work in ways that are consistent with the principles of development effectiveness. Clearly, challenges remain and more progress is needed, which is why the CSO Partnership is more committed than ever to continue its campaign for effective development.


AkakpoBioPatricia Blankson Akakpo is one of the CPDE Co-Chairs and Senior Programme Officer/Head of Secretariat for the Network for Women’s Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT). She has a Master’s degree in development studies from The Hague, Netherlands, and more than fifteen years of experience in the field of gender and development, human resource management, labour relations and programme management.

Moving forward for Egypt’s development

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By Ashraf El-Araby, Egyptian Minister of Planning, Follow-up, and Administrative Reform

 
In less than three years Egypt has witnessed two revolutions. Masses took to the streets in January 2011 and again on 30 June, 2013, demanding a better, more democratic future. Our transitional period has not been easy, but we continue to take steady steps towards democracy. The amended Constitution was approved earlier this year, President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi was recently sworn in as the new Egyptian President, and soon Egyptians will visit the ballot box once again to elect their new parliament. Yet, despite the positive developments witnessed after the January Revolution, it is no secret that the political instability delivered a strong blow to the economy and the development process.

Economic development in the past decades has led to Egypt’s graduation to the status of a middle-income country. Yet, like other countries that fall in the lower bracket of this middle-income group, we continue to suffer high levels of poverty, unemployment, among many other development challenges. Despite the relatively high growth rates witnessed in Egypt in the years preceding the 2011 revolution – reaching a high of 7% and an average of 5.6% from 2007 to 2010 – social indicators were steadily worsening. Unfortunately, the high levels of economic growth have not been equitable. There were and still are great disparities among the Egyptian population. The economic downturn following the 2011 revolution further complicated the economic reality and, sadly, the most vulnerable segments of society were hit the hardest.

In an effort to counter this deterioration, and in response to the main demand of the Egyptian people, social justice, the government has been actively shifting its policies towards inclusiveness since January 2011. The new Strategic Framework for Economic and Social Development 2012-2022, which guides all our planning efforts, is based on the principle of inclusiveness. The Framework itself was inclusively designed through a series of public and societal dialogues with different stakeholders, with notable participation from the private sector and civil society. It is worth highlighting that the Framework, which was designed by the Ministry of Planning in co-operation with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), also incorporates the principles of effective development co-operation. It includes clear guidelines to: firstly, set a strong Monitoring and Evaluation scheme in key ministries; secondly, improve domestic accountability; thirdly, support the engagement of the private sector and civil society as partners in development; and fourthly, reinforce Egypt’s South-South co-operation.

We are proud to continue striving to realise our development goals despite the many impediments. The challenges are huge, and the aspirations are even higher, and the Government certainly needs to work in tandem with all its development partners to succeed. We co-ordinate with our national partners from the civil society and private sector. We also work closely with the international community in order to speed up our development process.

The Egyptian Government has been an active player in the aid effectiveness dialogue, participating in Paris, Accra and Busan high-level fora. We supported the Paris Declaration, Accra Agenda, and the Busan Partnership, and we joined the international development community in Mexico in April 2014 to reaffirm our support to the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation. We also took part in the Paris monitoring surveys, and more recently the Global Partnership monitoring survey. While there is more work yet to be accomplished, the surveys nevertheless showed progress in adhering to the principles of aid effectiveness. We believe that development co-operation is a two-way street, and we are working hard to improve different areas of aid management.

To consolidate its efforts on this front, the Egyptian Government, in co-operation with its development partners, drafted the Cairo Agenda for Action. The Agenda was drafted after Accra in an effort to translate aid effectiveness principles into policies. The Ministry of International Co-operation is currently pursuing the Agenda and plans to update it in light of recent developments.

For more than 40 years we have worked hand in hand with our partners in the international community to better the livelihoods of Egyptian citizens. In order to move ahead we need not only the serious engagement of all national stakeholders, but also the support of our development partners.


20140415_110302 - Copy (1)Ashraf El-Araby is former Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation. He headed the Egyptian delegation to the first High-Level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation, which took place in Mexico City, Mexico, on 15-16 April, 2014. Dr. El-Araby is currently the Egyptian Minister of Planning, Follow-up, and Administrative Reform.

Why open data matters for sustainable development post-2015

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By Rachel Rank, Deputy Director of Publish What You Fund

 
Earlier this month, we launched our new campaign Road to 2015: Open Data for Sustainable Development at the United Nations Headquarters.

As with all the work we do, transparency and accountability are at the heart of this new campaign. They also feature heavily in the principles of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation.

But while we’ve spoken a fair bit about our expectations for the Global Partnership, this was the first campaign we have launched at the UN. We did so because it was there that, earlier this year, a panel of world leaders proposed a highly anticipated framework for stamping out extreme poverty by 2030 – the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The recommendations are a dramatic shift from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expire at the end of 2015. They call for a ‘data and information revolution’ and put transparency and accountability at the heart of this new framework.

A lot has changed since the MDGs were agreed. We have faced a global financial crisis and increasing political instability. This has made transparency, public accountability and citizen engagement in the post-2015 agenda even more critical. Poor economic growth is a reason to prioritise transparent and accountable financing for sustainable development.

The world of development finance is also changing. Top-down development, with donors telling recipients what to do, is twentieth-century thinking. We are at a critical point in the push for open data.

pwyfquoteOpen data has the power to reduce corruption, improve decision-making and the allocation of resources, empower citizens and support good governance – all prerequisites for encouraging local ownership and responsibility and, ultimately, sustainable development.

Partner countries are better equipped now, more than ever, to take full ownership of their development agenda. They have asked for more information about development co-operation spending so they can better manage their own resources, and ensure the delivery of results.

Our Road to 2015 campaign will ensure that the focus on transparency remains throughout the new agenda-setting process. We believe this process should start with better information about aid for two reasons.

Firstly, the new goals will be global targets. Responsibility for delivery lies with every nation (as well as with the collective global community), not just with governments of developing countries. It is essential that aid providers — both bilateral and multilateral — practice what they preach in terms of good governance, transparency, accountability and citizen participation.

Secondly, there is already a precedent for transparent publication of aid data, in the form of the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). This is the only existing system for making current information about aid easily accessible to everyone, in a comparable format that is free to access, use and re-use.

At the Busan High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in 2011 the international development community, including the world’s largest donors, promised to fully implement by December 2015 a common standard for publishing aid information, which includes IATI and OECD-DAC reporting systems. While some are now publishing this data, efforts remain uneven.

IATI is the only standard that satisfies our four pillars of transparent aid, ensuring data is published in a manner that is timely, comprehensive, accessible and comparable. These aspects are all crucial, as only then can donor aid spending be mapped and properly aligned with the partner country’s domestic budget.

Access to information can potentially transform the relationship not only between citizens and governments, but also between donors and recipients. Open data has the power to reduce corruption, improve decision-making and the allocation of resources, empower citizens and support good governance – all prerequisites for encouraging local ownership and responsibility and, ultimately, sustainable development.

Making aid more effective is a crucial part of the UN’s goal to end extreme poverty by 2030, as is good governance and the data and information revolution. As debates on the next set of SDGs and the role of the Global Partnership come to a head, transparency must be an essential part of all goals, giving citizens more information and more say in their own lives.

The Road to 2015 must be paved with open data, not just good intentions.


RankbioRachel Rank is Deputy Director of Publish What You Fund, the Global Campaign for Aid Transparency. Her role includes developing and managing our research and monitoring products, particularly the annual Aid Transparency Index, and establishing partnerships with other organisations focusing on transparency, accountability and access to information.

If development were soccer

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By Rakesh Rajani, Twaweza

 
If there were a prize for global organisations most at risk of corruption, FIFA, the International Federation of Football (Soccer) Association, could be a contender.

In several respects, FIFA’s inside dealing and lack of transparency is reminiscent of the poor governance of many developing countries. For some countries, this is associated with malaise and dysfunction, misuse of public resources, poor public service delivery, and entrenched inequities. But the state of soccer, far from being a basket case, is vibrant and thriving.

Look at the excitement among billions of people all over the world tuning in to the World Cup 2014. Walk through East Africa’s bustling communities on weekends, and you will likely see animated people listening to the beautiful game. You can see much of the same across large parts of Africa, Latin America, and Asia.

Why does soccer work? Why, unlike so many badly governed public agencies, NGOs, and projects, is soccer so powerful, lively, and engaging?

Might it provide useful insights for how we think about development in countries where the intractable problems of supra-governance will not be sorted out soon? Soccer and development, while very different, have several features in common.

Both have purposes or goals to score. Both need someone deciding whether conduct is right, imposing sanctions for foul behavior, and judging the final outcome. And both need a diverse set of actors who need to be motivated and work together to deliver.

But each handles these features very differently.

twawezaSoccer as a metaphor for international development may seem frivolous, except that the features that make the game work may be essential to motivating and realizing success in development.

Focus on goals

All soccer players focus clearly on goals. In development, there are also goals and purposes. While some are clearer than others, too many initiatives suffer from three kinds of problems. First, they try to do too many things at once. When an organisation does this, it tends to get distracted, pulled in too many directions, and energy and focus dissipate. Ultimately, it fails to reach important goals in any meaningful sense.

I have seen this in Tanzania’s education sector, for example, where programmes have tried to initiate reforms with teachers and books and infrastructure and curriculum and pedagogy and examinations and finances and governance and gender and HIV/AIDS and environment, all at the same time.

Second, because achieving goals can take time and require several steps, there is a tendency to develop many interim markers of progress. Keeping track of these intended signposts toward ultimate goals can become so time-consuming that one loses sight of the goals themselves. This would be the equivalent, in soccer, of players focusing so much on counting the number of passes, height of their headers, speed of their runs and the like, that no one remembers the score.

Third, incentives are not aligned to reward development success. The health worker who toils nine hours a day delivering quality care is likely paid the same as an absent and discourteous colleague. And whether a project gets renewed, or a ministry receives more budget, or a country receives more aid is determined largely by factors other than its track record of attaining goals. Ideas such as the Centre for Global Development’s Cash on Delivery, a version of which we are testing in Tanzania to improve learning outcomes, need more attention from development partners.

Soccer is Radically Transparent

Assessments of outcomes don’t get fudged in soccer, in part due to the clarity of goals and rules, as well as the independence of the referees. Assessment is also clear because the game is radically transparent and played out in the open. This means that everyone can have an informed opinion about the game. There’s increasing opportunity to voice those opinions – be it on the manager’s strategy, players’ performance, referees’ calls, or fans’ behavior— through social media and traditional media. Players and managers know they need to do well and to play it right. This sort of deep public transparency fosters accountability like nothing else.

The field of development is also moving toward greater transparency, aided by technologies that make it easier to collect, store, analyse, visualise, and share data; and by pressure of citizens from India to Sierra Leone to Brazil, demanding their right to know. For example, on the issue of transparency, the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a multilateral effort run equally by government and civil society, which now involves 64 countries, is a powerful new platform to do some of the things soccer does best. By joining, each member country is nudged to advance the frontiers of transparency and report on progress on an annual basis, which is subject to independent review. While there are challenges, the OGP is enabling reformers worldwide to learn from each other, and to innovate, collaborate and solve problems. In the process government is slowly being reinvented to work better for people.

Soccer’s vitality derives from the clarity of its regulatory framework; clear alignment of goals, success, and incentives; and the open nature of its play. Soccer as a metaphor for international development may seem frivolous, except that the features that make the game work may be essential to motivating and realizing success in development.

Perhaps, when it comes to solving complex challenges in governance and development, play may be just the verb we need.

As with soccer, getting a few key things right about the core aspects of development may matter more than sorting out the intransigence of its supra governance. For a great game of soccer, and possibly for development, everyday governance and incentives writ small matter more than the election of officials who hand out the trophies. Observe the young people who play soccer every day, how they think, how they make their moves, how they make the game flow. Observe the intensity and delight in their play. You will know that they’ve got something deeply right.


RR mugshotRakesh Rajani is the founder and head of Twaweza in East Africa and the civil society chair of the Open Government Partnership.

This post is based on an essay that first appeared as part of USAID’s Frontiers in Development series. Read the original here.

Triangular co-operation and knowledge-sharing: a view from Italy

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By Lapo Pistelli, Italian Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs

 

In a world of multipolar growth, there is no longer room for a “one size fits all” model of development. New forms such as triangular co-operation offer significant opportunities to promote both mutual learning on development experiences and to maximise resources, capacities and knowledge.

Triangular co-operation promotes the engagement of new development actors and donors. This is crucial as the international community is in the process of defining a new global development agenda. The traditional distinctions and labels such as “donors-beneficiaries” or “North-South” co-opertation will no longer be as relevant as before in consideration of the diverse challenges all countries are facing. Partnership, common responsibility and mutual benefit are now key concepts for the development community.

In this framework, knowledge sharing across a broad spectrum of stakeholders is critical for laying and strengthening the foundations for endogenous capacity development. It is essential to foster mutually beneficial learning and to enhance local ownership and leadership. Triangular co-operation can promote knowledge sharing and enable new types of horizontal partnerships between “developed” and “developing” countries, creating “win-win-win” situations. These co-ordinated actions are of tremendous benefit, helping trigger the sharing of resources, competences and specific know-how, in line with aid effectiveness principles.

Field Coverage: BrazilWorking on a programme along with several partners with different financial and organisational mechanisms is not always easy. However, we believe that this kind of co-operation helps to share and disseminate best practices.

Italian Development Co-operation actively supports triangular co-operation initiatives. One clear example is Amazonia Sem fogo” (Amazon Rainforest Without Fire) programme, addressing the persistently problematic use of fire in livestock and agriculture in the Amazon region. The programmeaims to reduce deforestation through the development of alternative means to the use of fire in agriculture, thus contributing to the protection of the environment and the improvement of the living conditions of the rural communities.

After the successful experience of the bilateral programme from 1999 to 2009in Brazil, the Italian Government along with the Government of Brazil agreed with La Paz to replicate the programme from 2012 in Bolivia. The programme has strong training and capacity building components, and knowledge sharing is an essential element. The methodologies and systems developed in Brazil are now replicated in Bolivia. Brazilian Ministry of Environment officers and technicians who took part in the implementation of the programme in their country are training their fellow colleagues and farmers in Bolivia. Such co-operation between Italy and Brazil will now be extended to Ecuador: “Amazonia sin fuego” is currently in its activation phase.

Working on a programme along with several partners with different financial and organisational mechanisms is not always easy. However, we believe that this kind of co-operation helps to share and disseminate best practices. This is done by engaging partners in research for shared solutions to common problems and by promoting inclusive and sustainable models of development.

This same spirit is at the core of Expo Milan 2015 with the theme “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”.  There are now 147 official participants registered and millions of visitors are expected. All of this will coincide with the negotiations on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Expo Milan thus represents a unique chance to contribute to the global debate on sustainability as well as food and nutrition security. It is an opportunity to share best development practices. It will be a platform for mutual learning and for building new partnerships among different actors on key issues of global development.

South-South and triangular co-operation can have a key role in achieving sustainable development in the framework of the Post-2015 Agenda. The Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation could be the right platform for encouraging networks for experience and knowledge sharing in order to improve and strengthen development policies and practices.


Pistelli_54381_mediumLapo Pistelli is Italian Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and member of the Italian Parliament, elected in 2013 for the Italian Democratic Party. He was a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs from 1996-2004, and a member of the European Parliament from 2004-2008 where he served as both Head of the Italian Delegation and as a member of the committees for Foreign Affairs, and for Financial and Economic Affairs. In the Italian Democratic Party, he is the Head of the Foreign Affairs and International Relations Department.

Philanthropy and development – A new paradigm?  

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By Clare Woodcraft-Scott, Emirates Foundation

 
Philanthropy is changing. Not in any radical or revolutionary way, but slowly, oil-tanker style. It is moving at a slow but steady pace, creating new structural trends, a new appreciation of learning through failure and a healthy opening up to the idea of collaboration. Some might call it a paradigm shift.

Previously, foundations generally implemented time-bound, short-term projects, limited to a 12, 18 or 24 month timeframe, but today’s philanthropists are thinking much more systemically. The lexicon is changing as talk of long-term social investment programmes and inter-generational change gains traction. The difficulty of creating sustainable social value through short-term interventions is being recognised.

Where once foundations took a ‘spray and pray’ or ‘scatter-gun’ approach disbursing multiple short-term grants to multiple third parties in multiple different sectors, today they increasingly focus. Historically, when the remit of foundations grew, too often it diluted their impact. Today, foundations are much more targeted and in some cases focusing on just a single issue with a view to eradicating it permanently, rather than simply mitigating it temporarily.

Our model at Emirates Foundation is a case in point. From working with multiple different categories of beneficiaries and multiple themes with a large grant making portfolio, we now work on only one area – youth development. Moreover, rather than issue hundreds of grants each year to multiple third parties, we now run and manage our own programmes in-house.

While grant making is still the norm, new financial instruments and new operational models are emerging. Social impact bonds are being watched closely by governments, social investors and even conventional ones. These performance-based investments pay out when successful social outcomes result in public sector savings. They are driving a new way of thinking about how social finance should be structured.

Emirates2jpgWith our new operational Venture Philanthropy model, where we focus on only one area, we are already seeing a difference in terms of measurable outputs – over 40,000 youth in the UAE have been impacted by our programmes.

While often rightly reiterating the criticality of grants, foundations are now also looking at loan guarantees, debt and equity. As the world’s ‘wicked problems’ persist in their intractability, new financial instruments are needed to help scale up solutions. Community-specific innovation is not enough. The world needs large-scale initiatives to address large-scale problems. Extreme poverty still affects over one billion people on the planet despite over ten years of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Measurement is also coming to the fore. In the past, foundations tended to track inputs – the number of grants processed, the number of projects completed and the total spend. Today, they increasingly look at outputs and outcomes. What was the real impact of their efforts and did it last? Impact investors go further, demanding a tangible social (and often financial) return on their investments, forcing philanthropists to focus on real value creation rather than simply delivery and execution.

New entrepreneurial ways of thinking are giving rise to new mechanisms of delivery with social enterprises at the fore. This hybrid model combines business principles such as efficiency, accountability and value creation with the traditional focus of social organisations. Social enterprise is also capturing the imagination of younger philanthropists disillusioned with the pure profit mantra of big business but convinced that philanthropy should be more results-driven and more transparent.

Where once money was a key component, philanthropists now look to combine financial resources with technical ones. Many foundations are now very ‘hands-on’ in terms of delivery and much less comfortable with a transactional ‘cheque-writing’ model. Traditional dependence on single donors is being replaced by a drive for financial viability as a critical component of achieving long-term sustainable results.

Where previously foundations may have kept their internal learning a closely guarded secret, today they are more inclined to share knowledge and insights. Logical frameworks and ongoing comprehensive evaluation are now seen as critical tools of improving internal learning and performance management. Foundations once averse to sharing ‘failure’ are now embracing it as a means of building capacity and credibility among investors, as a sign of track record and experience.

These trends have not yet been institutionalised across the sector but are more and more prevalent in its literature, networks and events. Emirates Foundation’s annual philanthropy summit was dedicated entirely to this topic last year, themed ‘Philanthropy in Transition’. The OECD-hosted foundation network, NetFWD recently published a report reiterating these points. Entitled Venture Philanthropy In Development: Dynamics, Challenges And Lessons In The Search For Greater Impact,the report documents the transition of four global foundations (Rockefeller, Shell, Lundin and Emirates) from traditional philanthropy to Venture Philanthropy (also known as Strategic, Catalytic, or Enterprise-based Philanthropy). All four changed their business model with a view to deploying philanthropic capital more efficiently and creating more measureable social value.

Not all are convinced of the new direction. Some traditionalists still challenge the idea of applying business acumen to creating social value. Even Boards are sometimes averse to applying the same principles of effectiveness and efficiency to a foundation that they would to a commercial entity. Such reticence continues to stymie the performance of the sector, allowing foundations to continue to report input rather than output and to gloss over things that didn’t work. However, the tide is turning as more and more philanthropists look for new models and new ways of delivering more impact and recognise that learning through failure is a powerful tool for driving greater accountability.

At Emirates Foundation we publicly acknowledge that the sheer size and diversity of our earlier portfolio was significantly diluting our impact and ability to create sustainable outcomes. With our new operational Venture Philanthropy model, where we focus on only one area, we are already seeing a difference in terms of measurable outputs – over 40,000 youth in the UAE have been impacted by our programmes.

Accountability and transparency lie at the heart of this new sectoral change. A step-change in both is moving philanthropy very much in line with global trends and the global demands of a twenty-first century where connectivity and a digital revolution kill opacity. It could also render the social impact of philanthropy much greater and more sustainable. Ultimately, foundations have a significant and growing potential to make a very strong contribution to some of the world’s most pressing social challenges. The sheer size of the philanthropic capital market means it can’t be ignored. With a new philanthropic paradigm that embraces efficiency and openness, perhaps emulated to some extent by the formal development sector itself, the MDGs and their reinvention, the Sustainable Development Goals that will replace them in 2015, might seem much easier to achieve.


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Clare Woodcraft-Scott is CEO of Emirates Foundation and oversaw its transition from grant-making to venture philanthropy. She has 20 years’ experience in sustainable socio-economic development as a practitioner, journalist and corporate executive. She was formerly Deputy Director of Shell Foundation which invests in social enterprises and earlier ran Shell’s social investment portfolio in the Middle East and North Africa. She previously headed Visa International’s public affairs in emerging markets and worked in Palestine for various development agencies.

 

Images used courtesy of the Emirates Foundation.

Data Revolution – The fulcrum for delivering the development effectiveness agenda

 

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By Vitalice Meja, Reality of Aid Africa Network

Real access to and use of data is crucial for development co-operation, and for the billions of people whom this co-operation aims to benefit. For development co-operation stakeholders, real access to data allows for transparency as well as better planning, targeting and review. For beneficiaries, real access enables ownership and accountability, while strengthening participation. As we deepen the implementation of the four key Busan principles, we must have a revolution in both access to and use of data in our development co-operation. Good data is essential in order to involve all people interested in delivering development results. It is also vital in enhancing transparency and accountability.

However, we must realise that this will not be a one-off exercise. It will not be achievable at the flick of a switch. It is going to take a lot of hard work, exercising political will and leadership for institutional and legal reforms, capacity building, and behavioural change.

Efforts towards a data revolution are underway and encouraging. Global and national initiatives have attracted development providers and recipients alike, improving access to information. The International Aid Transparency Initiative is working on the global front, while several initiatives such as Kenya’s e-ProMIS exemplify national efforts. However we must observe that neither global nor national initiatives have attracted all relevant players. IATI remains a coalition of the willing, while national governments struggle to get their development partners, including South–South partners, to supply correct and timely data. More positively, we can see that there are systems out there that can improve data access both at the global and national levels.

MejaQuoteData use should not lead to ‘business as usual’. It must bring about a total behavioural change in addressing the real needs of the people as well as leading to a better enabling environment for civil society initiatives.

Despite having systems to improve data access, bureaucratic procedures and political considerations still pose challenges to providing timely information. Lots of data supplied to the recipient country are not only outdated, but sometimes inconsistent with the information held by the provider country’s headquarters. This affects analysis and programming. Furthermore, few development partners are able to provide forward-looking data, making it impossible for actors in the recipient country to plan.  Furthermore recipient Governments have increasingly failed to capture adequately ODA flows in their national budget as well as their medium term planning instruments thereby compromising the integrity of these planning instruments as the data is never quite forthcoming in a timely manner. For civil society organisations, this problem is compounded by the technical nature of the data, as well as by the political considerations of recipient governments before releasing such information to the public. Data access seems to be a preserve of the executives and not the general public and the codification of such information reflects this mindset.  The view is that such information may be too politically sensitive to release to the public.

To combat this, we must invest heavily in the infrastructure and institutional frameworks necessary for the data revolution to take effect. Institutions must be capable of receiving, reviewing and processing data in a timely and effective manner. They must also be able to ensure the accessibility of this data to all who may need it. We must address the legal and regulatory impediments that impinge upon access to information.

Governments must also be willing to receive and process various forms of information from various stakeholders, including data beyond financial flows. For example, data from civil society on any negative impact of development programmes on communities, violations of human rights and abuse cases, domestic and sexual violence against women also need to be accommodated in the new data revolution.

While access remains key, data use is also important. The data revolution will have reached its objective when it has increased democratic ownership, strengthened partnerships and led to better development results. In this regard, we must build the analytical capacity of the institutions receiving data. This will not only require the technical aspects of capacity building but also human and financial resources. For millions of citizens around the world, data usage only becomes relevant when it empowers them to hold governments to account and to claim their own rights from the relevant institutions. Data use should not lead to ‘business as usual’. It must bring about a total behavioural change in addressing the real needs of the people as well as leading to a better enabling environment for civil society initiatives.


MejaBioVitalice Meja is a development policy analysis specialist in the areas of development cooperation, economic development, poverty reduction policies and microfinance as it relates to NGOs, government and intergovernmental organisations.He co-ordinates the Reality of Aid Africa Network – a pan-African network working on poverty eradication through effective development co-operation.

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