Business can be a partner for Myanmar’s shared prosperity

By Khine Khine Nwe, Joint Secretary General of Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry and member of Myanmar Investment Commission

 
Myanmar’s ongoing reform efforts include private sector development, helping the country create an attractive business environment for domestic and international investors. The country’s private sector is working with policymakers to develop its investment strategy, raise awareness about employee rights and ethical business, as well as to provide jobs and vocational training to vulnerable groups such as human-trafficking victims and many others.

Myanmar’s case encouraged experts at the Busan Global Partnership Workshop in November 2014 in Seoul, South Korea, to discuss how the private sector can partner for a country’s development.

Ms. Khine Khine Nwe, Joint Secretary General of Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry and member of Myanmar Investment Commission, discussed some ways for business to be a partner for Myanmar’s shared prosperity:

 

What is the private sector’s role in Myanmar’s development?

If the private sector grows, the country grows. I am glad that governments are now recognising that. We create income, jobs and wealth and help develop domestic resources. We all have the same goal as we want to move forward to see the nation grow and develop.

Myanmar has had positive developments during its transition period. More than 456,000 jobs have been created there since 2011, and new investment to the private sector is helping to develop the country, bringing new jobs for more of its 51.4 million people.

We now need to transform from a focus on profit to seeking ways to benefit the many. It is important that all business comes with responsibility – it should do good for society and no harm to the environment. The Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (the Federation) is trying to raise awareness among all businesses, though we still have a lot of challenges.

In Myanmar, one way of encouraging the private sector to think about its role for the country’s development is through participation in the UN Global Compact. Some may see this as basically for promoting corporate social responsibility, but it is in fact about setting business principles for the private sector to be responsible for its contribution to development. In this sense, we are introducing the Global Compact’s 10 principles, which uphold the four pillars of human rights, labor rights, environmental protection and anti-corruption for Myanmar businesses.

We toured the country from early 2014 and now more than 150 enterprises have already committed to the Compact. We hosted the UN Global Compact summit in December in Yangon, to celebrate and mobilise the Myanmar Local Network – with the aim of making our way to a thousand plus members.

The Federation has also worked to sensitise the private sector on human rights, labor standards, environmental protection, anti-corruption and other issues. Myanmar Garment Human Resources Development Center has conducted awareness-raising sessions with the Center’s over 2,000 trainees and supported other enterprises in Myanmar to organise talks on the issues of human trafficking and HIV/AIDS, together with the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit under the Ministry of Home Affairs. The Department of Revenue also conducted national level workshops on taxation systems, as better tax collection will also boost funds for the country’s development.

I am not saying that what all of the private sector is doing is noble. We are all human beings and we are trying to contribute to the wellbeing of our country.

How can governments promote the private sector for development?

During the transitional period, the Myanmar Government tried to democratise political and economic reforms.

Last year, our country was ranked one of the most difficult places to do business. We came 182nd out of 189 countries in the World Bank Doing Business Report. That was quite alarming. The government established 27 delivery units in various Ministries and the Chamber of Commerce established 29 working groups, which are now talking on every issue to make things easier for businesses. For example, procedural constraints are not a major issue in the country any more and Myanmar moved up to 177th place in this year’s World Bank report.

We are preparing to host the Myanmar Business Forum in early 2015 to discuss all the issues that we cannot solve on the ground at this high-level forum to benefit all investors.

The new Myanmar Government is also trying to support the private sector with the new investment law. This will merge the two currently separate Myanmar domestic investment and foreign investment laws to become one in order to level the playing field between local and foreign businesses. Import and export trade barriers are also coming down as the government is trying to support the private sector.

How does the private sector work with other actors such as communities, government, local organisations to enhance the effectiveness of development in Myanmar?

For example, Myanmar is now planning three Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to help boost development. One is in Thilawa near Yangon, one in Dawei in the south of Myanmar, and the third in Rakhine State on the western coast.

In the sensitive area of Rakhine State, the Kyauk Phyu SEZ can help develop the area. If we teach people to focus on prosperity then eventually it can reduce the focus on tension there.

The SEZ should be environmentally sensitive and economically sustainable. The masterplan has already been released after multi-stakeholder engagement from a management team consisting of government, local authorities, community leaders, civil society, resource persons and the private sector.

There was initial resistance from local people in the Kyauk Phyu area due to lack of knowledge. They worried that SEZs did no good for the community and that they would occupy the region. But we showed the people the real SEZ area would be smaller than they imagined, asked them for more information about the area and told them more about its development.

Now, some of them already bought sewing machines with funding from the local government to be ready to start social businesses before launching the SEZ. These workers will get a certain salary from what they produce and invest back in the business to buy more machines and bring in more workers. This will eventually help transform job seekers into job providers.

How can the Global Partnership help Myanmar toward development effectiveness?

Global agreements on effective development must also meet local requirements. Myanmar is a least developed country, which means that development partners cannot come with a ready-made package for aid effectiveness. Least developed countries need time to adapt before adopting something like this. We need development partners to help us grow together within the local context, while speaking the same language.


Khine Khine Nwe is Joint Secretary General of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) and member of Myanmar Investment Commission. She is also Deputy Managing Director of Best Industrial Company Ltd. She was part of Myanmar delegation to the 2014 Busan Global Partnership Workshop in Seoul, Korea, with her participation supported by the UNDP Myanmar Country Office.

Catalysts of change in the Public Service

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By Max Everest-Phillips, Director of the UNDP Global Centre for Public Service Excellence

 
As we embrace the new year, Singapore has much to celebrate. In 2015, the city-state will mark its 50th year of independence – a milestone that merits deeper reflection on Singapore’s remarkable transformation from new nation with few industries, no agriculture and a small port to an economic powerhouse. Any conversation about Singapore would remain incomplete without acknowledging one of the key contributors to the country’s success: the Singapore Public Service.

What are the policy decisions that helped Singapore build effective public service institutions? How has Singapore developed and strengthened public service capacity to deliver and cope with changing times? What are the incentives that drive public officials to deliver results? What are the enablers of public service excellence in Singapore? Three key strands weave through the country’s public service tapestry: first, strong intrinsic motivation of public officials; second, strategic foresight and the capacity for long-term planning; and third, the effective alignment of political and administrative leadership.

Against this backdrop, it is only fitting that the UNDP Global Centre for Public Service Excellence (GCPSE) is located in Singapore. Set up in December 2012, the UNDP GCPSE is a collaborative effort between the Singapore Government and UNDP. Our role is to help UNDP and stakeholders in the development world to understand the nexus between governance and growth. This relationship is a defining signpost in Singapore’s journey since its independence. Therefore, the Centre has set out to learn from Singapore’s experience, identify factors that drive public service excellence and build knowledge that could be adapted to different country contexts.

The Centre has two objectives. First, it aims to promote evidence by gathering and building knowledge on what works. Second, to act as a convening hub to bring together thought leaders, thinker-practitioners, government officials, policy makers and development stakeholders to exchange ideas and nurture new thinking on ways to improve public service. We identified four catalysts of change in the public service and this forms the roadmap for the Centre’s work:

    Motivation

Public service ethos and the intrinsic motivation of public officials play a significant role in the quality of public service outputs. It is critical to explore how emotions, attitudes and ambitions intersect to influence performance of public officials. When public officials are highly motivated and nurture a sense of empathy with the beneficiaries they serve, their approaches are more innovative, inclusive and sustainable.

    Leadership

Co-operation between political and administrative leadership is a prerequisite for the fulfilment of sustainable development goals. Singapore’s example points to a smooth alignment between the political and administrative spheres of management; this, however, is not the case for many developing countries. Poor co-ordination, conflicting interests and a worrying trust deficit often lead to disastrous consequences; inevitably leading to inefficient provision of services and failed partnerships.

    Foresight

Responding to the complex and increasingly changing nature of today’s development landscape requires strategic foresight and long term-planning. Singapore’s economic growth and social progress stand as a testament to strengths and benefits of foresight. The ability to identify and analyse challenges and opportunities that lie ahead is of paramount importance for public service resilience in developing countries and its ability to be responsive and adaptive to change.

    Innovation

Public officials need to be empowered to think and act differently; by looking at complexity theory, design thinking and social innovation, public officials will stand to benefit from a new culture and mindset that celebrates experimentation, creativity and collaboration. Flexibility and the willingness to think out of the box are becoming progressively crucial for the new generation of public service.

PublicServiceIn our quest to understand successes and failures of public service reforms, we must remember that change and progress in development can only be sustained with ownership and participation at all levels.

The Centre seeks to challenge existing thinking in these areas and highlight the importance of placing public service at the heart of the post-2015 development agenda. The Singapore story shows us that an effective public service is the bedrock for achieving sustainable development goals. This brings us to the question: How do we create effective public service institutions?

There are no easy answers. The Centre is contributing to this dialogue as it takes on the role of co-Secretariat with the OECD of the Effective Institutions Platform (EIP), a partnership which emerged from the Busan High Level Ministerial and which is contributing to the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation’s High-Level Meeting through voluntary initiatives such as the learning alliances on public sector reform.  Through this partnership, we hope to create a space for EIP members and the Centre’s stakeholders to share knowledge, evidence and foster mutual learning around public service reforms. The establishment of Learning Alliances will help strengthen peer learning on topics agreed at the ‘Public Service Excellence & the post-2015 Development Agenda’ workshop in November 2014. EIP Learning Alliances are designed as collaborative multi-stakeholder groupings of institutions and organisations that share knowledge on public sector reform. Learning Alliances enable mutual learning in safe spaces and experimentation with problem-driven approaches to public sector reform.

In our quest to understand successes and failures of public service reforms, we must remember that change and progress in development can only be sustained with ownership and participation at all levels. As Singapore’s experience teaches us, it is imperative to get right the motivation, leadership, foresight and innovation in the conception, reform and delivery of public services. Once this is achieved, the world we want by 2030 becomes a realistic future.


MaxEverest-PhillipsMax Everest-Phillips has been Director of the UNDP Global Centre for Public Service Excellence (GCPSE) since July 2013. He is an expert in governance, political economy and public administration.

Tension between urban and rural interests in development and beyond

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By Tunç Soyer, Mayor of Seferihisar, Turkey

Local governments: first line of defence against the most critical issues of humankind

It is said that cities were first founded to meet people’s need for security and commerce. People built cities to be close to each other to socialise, sell the fruits of their labours, and gain access to a greater variety of products. Today the importance, size and value of cities have increased, making them the most important habitats of humankind. Cities became hubs of not only security and commerce but also of innovation, science, art and culture. Cities also became the main theatre where some of the most serious issues we face; pollution, traffic, crime, waste, homelessness etc., play out.

Local governments, whether urban or rural, are the level of governance closest to the people. Therefore they are expected to offer solutions for hunger, improve transportation, ensure people’s participation in the decision-making processes, disseminate health services, empower democracy and provide security. In addition to on-going responsibilities such as these, local governments also need to be ready to face disasters like floods, fire, earthquakes, tornados and such. To sum up, local governments are the first line of defence against the most critical issues of humanity, and they need to be supported.

Decentralisation and recentralisation: a solution to problems?

Local governments in Turkey are deeply bonded with their people. Municipalities are not institutions that only pick up garbage or collect taxes, they are far more than that. People expect municipalities to remedy all their problems. People who don’t have enough money, want a college education or someone to fix their broken windows seek remedies from their municipalities.

At the same time, in Turkey, local governance is still heavily influenced by the central level. Turkey is located in a troubled global region. Probably, embracing more centralised administration was seen as a solution to the problems this generates.

A decision by the Turkish central government has recently abolished 16,000 villages located at the outskirts of cities which were obstructing urban growth. These are now labelled “neighbourhoods”. This decision was made without consulting the people that live in the villages, their administrations or local governments, which is in conflict with the European Charter of Local Self Government. Yet, this abolition has had a tremendous effect on people living in both villages and cities.

The abolition of the villages has brought them under control of urban municipalities, which are looking for more space to expand their cities. The cities are therefore encroaching on village lands, endangering the livelihood of the villagers, who are mostly active in agriculture, as well as the villages’ cultures and their protective approach to the environment. It has also severely harmed the villagers’ ability to influence a farther-removed local government that no longer has their interests at heart. This decision has caused villagers to lose their inherited lands, buildings, and production facilities, the control of which was transferred to the district governments that sacrificed them to urban expansion.

TurkeyQuoteI truly hope that in Turkey local governments will have the necessary power and resources in future to provide better service for their citizens, in line with their needs.

People living in both villages and cities will face the consequences of this decision: local production in villages used to provide city-dwellers with good and natural food. If they cease to exist, cities will have to rely on industrial food producers. Moreover, the loss of livelihood associated with this change will force villagers to move into the cities, where they will most likely end up in slums, because they have no vocational training outside of agriculture to find a job.

These arguments are not only relevant to my case, but particularly relevant to the poorest countries in the world, where urbanisation is often accelerating most quickly and the means to accommodate it – both technical and financial – are often less easily accessible to governments of all levels. It is important, moreover, for developing countries to acknowledge that although urban expansion creates enormous economic opportunities, it can also be the cause of great economic hardship and even increased poverty.

Consultation and inclusion of all voices in setting national priorities

The central government must include local governors in decision-making processes. Consultation in early stages of the definition of development priorities is crucial to ensure broad-based democratic ownership and to balance the interests of cities and villages. In the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation, I am happy that United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) is advocating for the role of local governments in development. I completely support their request to include local governments more strategically in the definition and implementation of development priorities.

To tackle problems such as the tension between urban and rural interests, which are not unique to Turkey, but are rather ubiquitous in the world today, we must request adequate resources to serve our people and we need access to knowledge from other local governments, both in Turkey and from abroad. Joining Local Government Associations will help local governments to increase their service capacity and allow them to benefit from others’ experience with similar problems. Local Government Associations are good platforms for local governments to have their voices heard, both at the national and international levels, such as UCLG, but also to exchange and learn from each other.

Most governments in the world have embraced decentralisation and are giving more power to local governments. I truly hope that in Turkey too, local governments will have the necessary power and resources in future to provide better service for their citizens, in line with their needs.


SoyerTunç Soyer is Mayor of Seferihisar Turkey. He is also one of the United Cities and Local Governments organisation’s eight Local and Regional Government Development Cooperation Champions.

The gap between our conception of urban poverty and its measurement

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By David Satterthwaite

 
Our understanding of urban poverty has advanced greatly in the last 25 years. But sadly, our measurement of it has not kept up. There is an astonishing gap between discussions of what should be measured and monitored, and what can be measured and monitored with existing data. Why is this so and why does it matter to development co-operation?

Poverty lines – a bit of history

A survey of living conditions in the city of York by Seebohm Rowntree, published in 1902 suggested the need for a poverty line. This drew on Rowntree’s research and was based on the costs of food, fuel, light, rent, clothing and what were considered necessary household and personal items.

Poverty lines became part of states’ social policies in Europe, especially after World War II. Some were based on a defined set of goods, (as with Rowntree’s poverty line), some were based on food costs with an additional amount added for non-food needs, and some were based on a set percentage of a nation’s median income. All these assume that poverty can be defined and measured based on income level.

This idea of poverty defined and measured through a poverty line was then transferred to low- and middle-income countries. Poverty lines were usually based only on food costs – as if it were only food that a household has to buy to avoid poverty. If there was an allowance for non-food needs, it was generally very small and arbitrary (as no data were collected on non-food costs). So poverty assessment specialists made no allowance for the higher costs facing low-income groups in many cities such as housing rent and covering basic services. For example, having no piped water may oblige households to buy from vendors or tankers. No toilet at home means using public pay-to-use toilets or facing the health risks of no provision (and open defecation). We estimate that around a billion urban dwellers live in informal settlements, and many of them cannot access public healthcare or schools, forcing them to pay for private services instead. In larger cities, transport costs are also high for the many who can only afford to live in peripheral locations and must travel long distances to work or to access services.

SatterthwaitequoteBetter measurement of poverty led by standards set by the urban poor themselves can help us tackle the various and deep-rooted problems that they face.

 

Changing conception

From the early 1990s, the multiple deprivations that were part of urban poverty came to be recognised. These were informed by many detailed studies in informal settlements that revealed the high levels of overcrowding, poor quality housing, a lack of services and high risk of eviction. Studies show high infant and child mortality rates and the lack of policing and thus rule of law in so many settlements. Some studies showed how those lacking a legal address could not access state entitlements or get on the voter’s register. Perhaps our most recent discovery about the multiple deprivations low-income urban dwellers suffer is these dwellers’ lack of influence over how poverty is defined, measured and acted on.

But what do the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) offer to measure and monitor urban poverty? A single US$1.25 a day poverty line applied across all locations not only in each country, but also internationally. This line is so low that urban poverty disappears in most nations and regions because it does not capture the true costs of avoiding poverty. Set the line low enough and no-one is poor.

MDG measurement of other aspects of deprivation also fails to understand urban contexts. The UN’S monitoring of provision for water does not assess whether the water is safe, or reliable or accessible. What’s more, this global system’s measurement of sanitation does not account for whether pit latrines contaminate the water table in densely populated areas. The UN admits that what it defines as improved provision of water includes large numbers of sources that are faecally contaminated. Surely we can do better than this.

So, assessments of poverty in any nation need to recognise that poverty lines should vary, reflecting differences in the cost of food and non-food needs. They need to include assessments of housing and living conditions and of basic services. Now, we must also recognise the right of the urban poor to contest any poverty line or other poverty measure.

Beyond this, we need to recognise the failure of local governments to engage with and respond to the inhabitants of informal settlements as a defining characteristic of urban poverty. Better measurement of poverty led by standards set by the urban poor themselves can help us tackle the various and deep-rooted problems that they face. Armed with such information, we will be able to move towards more effective development co-operation, working with the urban poor and their organisations and local governments to better tackle these problems.


SatterthwaiteBioDavid Satterthwaite is a Senior Fellow with the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). He is co-author with Diana Mitlin of two books published by Routledge on Urban Poverty in the Global South; Scale and Nature (2012) and Reducing Urban Poverty in the Global South (2013).

Protecting Civil Society’s Role in Development Co-operation

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By Virginie Coulloudon, Transparency International Group Director of External Relations

 
Within the development community, the role of civil society has never been more important.

Civil society is made up of community groups, volunteers, civil society organisations (CSOs) and trade unions, all of whom provide a crucial resource for development. We work outside the constraints of governments and markets to raise questions and demand changes, putting pressure on governments and business to act with integrity and transparency.
 

What civil society does

CSOs have a core part to play in governance, which is essential for development. In many cases, they are critical to making and improving laws. In the wake of the Arab Spring in Tunisia, or the protests that erupted across Bosnia, local activists were the ones who pushed reforms that protected human rights, advanced democracy, and ensured that ordinary people’s interests were represented in government.

Civil society also works extensively with international organisations, with an estimation that from 2007 – 2009, they were involved in in over 75% of the World Bank’s projects. Today, the World Bank partners with CSOs in Argentina to monitor government programmes and hold them to account, in China to help empower women in remote highland areas and across Africa to help reduce pesticide use among farmers.
 

Why are transparency and accountability so important to effective development co-operation? 

CSOs also help monitor the laws that they worked to have passed, with people coming together to make sure rights are not abused and laws are obeyed. Civil society plays a part in monitoring the activities of private sector entities, for example bringing up instances of illegal pollution and human rights abuses, creating accountability when needed.

More importantly co-operation between civil society, governments and businesses creates channels through which we can affect future change. The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative is a perfect example of this. This is a global coalition of governments, companies and civil society working together to improve openness and accountable management of revenues from natural resources such as oil, gas, metals and minerals. Transparency around how a country manages its natural resource wealth ensures that these resources benefit all citizens.

Civil Society’s work can inform the Global Partnership for Effective Development and Co-operation’s efforts towards more effective development co-operation in numerous ways. For example, at Transparency International we focus on transparency and accountability mechanisms that ensure public funds can be tracked to ensure they pay for schools and hospitals, for example, instead of being diverted to line the pockets of corrupt officials.

Transparency between governments, civil society and the private sector also promotes greater and more effective development co-operation. Kenya, for example, receives $1.7 billion in foreign aid a year. It became the first African country to release government data to the public through a single online platform in 2011, with information on funds allocated for local areas, school enrolment rates or access to water.

Finally, CSOs play a vital role as safety nets, helping those in need without considering vested political interests or national boundaries. Similar work is carried out by Transparency International’s Advocacy and Legal Advice Centres (ALACs) around the world, helping those who have suffered from corruption – for example, those who have been forced to pay for state healthcare, tricked into forced labour, or had their land illegally confiscated – to negotiate their way through the legal system and gain justice.
 

Civil Society under threat

Given the importance of CSOs, it is truly dismaying that across the world, civil society space is shrinking, persecuted by governments who view CSOs as a threat to their power. Freedom House estimates that it is getting increasingly harder for groups to operate outside of government interference. According to CIVICUS, there have been 413 threats to civil society across 87 countries in the last 2 years.

This persecution can take many forms. In Hungary, CSOs have seen the government freeze foreign funding under the pretext of preventing foreign influence in corruption. Montenegro’s journalists have faced threats to their life such as car bombs, while human rights defenders in Ethiopia are imprisoned and tortured.

This cannot go on if we seek a world where fundamental rights and freedoms are protected.

The importance of civil society space is apparent. Earlier this year, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights declared that civil society space must be protected if we are to guarantee human rights. The tightening of civil society space actively harms the aims of development – it makes it harder for the vulnerable to reach the resources they need.

There are concrete actions which can be taken to protect civil society and activists across the world. These include following UN Security Council Resolution 2171, which calls upon governments to engage with CSOs through meetings and allow them access to the media. Whistle-blowers and journalists must be protected from persecution and backlash when they expose abuses of power. New laws must be passed and existing laws strengthened and upheld with integrity in order to meet these requirements. Enabling CSOs to exercise their roles as independent development actors is also clearly spelled out as a commitment in the Busan Partnership agreement and a prerequisite for maximising CSOs’ contribution to development.

For Transparency International, the ability to work as a CSO, free from government or corporate interests is paramount. Clampdowns on civil society space have affected activists and colleagues around the world, not just in our organisation but in many others. Civil society provides watchdogs and safeguards to ensure that governments, businesses and people can work together to create a society that is, through co-operation, more than the sum of its parts.


VirginieVirginie Coulloudon joined Transparency International in 2012 as Communications Director, before becoming Group Director for External Relations in 2013. She was previously spokesperson, head of press and public information at the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and director of communications, Europe, at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. She is a former investigative journalist, permanent correspondent in Moscow, and research director at the Harvard Davis Center for Russian Studies.

Co-operating on innovation to make the data revolution happen

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By Trevor Fletcher, Informing the Data Revolution Project Manager at PARIS21

 
We’ve all been hearing a lot about the “Data Revolution” that’s needed to ensure we have the data to measure progress of development during the last year or so. As we approach the Sustainable Development Goals post-2015, this call will become an ever more deafening clamour.

But what is the data revolution exactly? If you search on Google for a precise definition, you won’t find one. Instead, you’ll find dozens of references such as:

  • “a revolution of new technologies and new data sources“
  • “pouring more money, innovation and effort into counting and measuring, and that more open data can help to unlock the corridors of power”
  • “providing access to better statistics, real time monitoring and feedback, big data analysis and transparent data on aid and government spending”
  • “collecting data on new aspects of wellbeing, or through new technologies, or producing and using data in new ways to promote accountability”
  • “taking advantage of new technologies and access to open data for all people”
  •  
    I could go on but I think you get the idea.

    We in PARIS21 – the Partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century just in case you didn’t know – have been funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to produce a Road Map for the data revolution. Our goal is “ … to produce a Road Map that will guide international leaders and policymakers, and national governments and statistical offices, in their path toward an effective, relevant, and sustainable development data revolution …” For us, the slogan for this revolution is getting the right data, to the right people, at the right time, in the right format.

    This project, called Informing a Data Revolution (IDR) has been taking stock of the situation in a number of countries to identify the problems and bottlenecks they have producing data in their national statistic systems. At the same time, we are also cataloguing possible solutions in an Innovations Inventory.

    This covers technological, institutional and other developments that have the potential to improve the financing, collection, compilation, dissemination and other uses of data.

    PARIS21 has also compiled an inventory of case studies to identify and explore solutions that can fill data gaps, reduce costs and improve efficiency. This way, more and better data can ultimately contribute to better information, decisions and actions to improve the lives of the people who need help most.

    Innovations include using handheld devices for collecting data, satellite imagery for estimating household income levels, using alternative sources of ‘big data’ to complement official statistics, dissemination platforms, open data initiatives, data exchange standards and other uses of software.

    Some examples of the many interesting innovations that have come to our notice so far include: using mobile phone call detail records and spatial population data to monitor the Ebola outbreak; the Orange D4D data challenge for encouraging the use of anonymised phone logs for development data analysis; The GeoPoll mobile-based survey platform; disseminating and visualising data via the Open Data Platform in the African Information Highway; the Open Data Barometer shows the global spread of Open Government Data policy and practice; the Big Idea Pilot mobilises young people with knowledge, data and technology to contribute to social accountability at a local, national and global level.

    The information in the inventory has been made available online so rather than me listing them all out, why don’t you have a look – it’s all just a click away right here.

    A key to making these innovations enable a data revolution in developing countries is for the international statistical community to share, collaborate and cooperate. National agencies, international organisations, academia, civil society and other players should all make their software tools available to others as a general principle – and many of them already do. Any new development in statistical software carried out by an organisation should be done with an eye for future sharing with the wider statistical community, using standards such as the Statistical Data and Metadata exchange (SDMX), open source software, open data principles, etc. Even more forward-looking would be to make the software compatible with the Common Statistical Processing Architecture (CSPA) being developed by the (take a deep breath before the world’s longest acronym … ) High-Level Group for the Modernisation of Statistical Production and Services (HLG) to allow a ‘plug and play’ approach so that data processing components and new innovative solutions can be more easily shared and adopted. Making all these solutions available via the inventory can help make this happen.

    Such cooperation and sharing was a rare thing as recently as ten years ago when each organisation developed its own ‘silo’ solutions, but is now very much on the increase. The goodwill of the global statistical community, including partnerships with the private sector, will help this collaboration and contribute to making the data revolution a reality. Does this all sound familiar? Yes, if you look at the process that was launched in Busan with the adoption of the Busan Action Plan for Statistics as part of a Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation, this is exactly what was called for.

    Sometimes good ideas just take a bit of time to be realised …


    TF2Trevor Fletcher is Head of the Statistical Information Management and Support Division, Statistics Directorate, OECD Paris. He is also project manager on “Informing the Data Revolution” at PARIS21. He has worked in the Information Technology sector since the 1980s in both the private and public sectors, including for the UK Government, New York and Sydney-based consultancies, Reuters and the Food and Agriculture agency of the United Nations (FAO).

    Making coalitions for agricultural development work

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    By Alain Vidal, Senior Partnerships Advisor, CGIAR Consortium

     
    The sheer scale and urgency of our world’s food security mega-challenges require action from many partners.

    Further, reliable food systems, including value chains, markets, infrastructure and consumption, are critical for human health, nutrition, wellbeing and equity. Producing sufficient and quality food for 9 billion people by 2050 is in itself a daunting challenge for agricultural research for development. We need access, stability and safety in food systems to achieve food security and nutrition for all.

    Despite significant progress in addressing the needs of the world’s poorest in the first part of the 21st century, 800 million people still don’t have enough to eat, and 1.2 billion live in extreme poverty. Additionally, climate change, cumulative environmental stress, conflict, dietary-induced obesity, zoonotic diseases and other stressors have slowed or reversed advances in both developed and developing countries. At the same time lack of investment, incentive structures, market failures and consumption patterns result in 40% of food being lost or wasted – an enormous misuse of our limited resources pointing to undervaluation of food and subsequent under-investments in food systems.

    The number of groups involved in agricultural research for development has increased and diversified dramatically amid these new contexts and challenges. These groups now include national research systems in some larger developing countries, universities and research institutions in both the developing and developed world, regional and local NGOs, and the private sector. We need strategic partnerships between all these actors in order to tackle these mega-challenges mentioned above.

    So how do we make these AR4D leadership coalitions work in an ethical and inclusive way? How can we ensure that actors stay focused on their common objectives? After all, we all share the goals of reducing poverty, improving food and nutrition security and health, as well as improving natural resources management and ecosystem services.

    The Global Alliance on Climate-Smart Agriculture (GACSA) launched during the UN Climate Summit in New York last September is a good model as it brings together governments, major NGOs, research institutions and private companies. In this regard, it is similar to the multi-stakeholder model promoted by the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation that came out of Busan. It also presents common challenges. Let us look at some of them.

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    The sheer scale and urgency of our world’s food security mega-challenges require action from many partners.

    First, because of the diversity of GACSA partners and how they are represented, the forum runs the risk of replicating a UN model, particularly when dealing with contentious issues. Discussions under this model lean towards a consensus body, where all actors must agree on all action taken, which often stymies progress. For GACSA in particular, the types of issues that could tempt the coalition into behaving like a consensus body could be the development of strict criteria and certification modalities to define what counts as “climate-smart agriculture”. Although we should not overlook consensus-building, I believe it is wiser to ensure that coalitions stick to operating a “leadership model” instead, which happily, GACSA wishes to do. This model seeks to promote direct action on the ground by sharing inspiring examples from those on the ground, knowledge on practices and approaches, and individual commitments from members.

    The second obstacle I see is criticism voiced by a large group of civil society organisations who fear that GACSA would actually promote “corporate-smart greenwash” including the promotion of Genetically Modified Organisms, and not care for the poor and vulnerable.

    These fears are to a large extent unfounded, since the major, publicly funded international founders of GACSA, such as the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the Global Forum on Agricultural Research and CGIAR are quite careful about potential ‘hijacking’ of such initiatives, and each have a mandate to serve the best interests of the world’s poorest people. This opinion is not shared by all. Some civil society organisations have actually joined GACSA.

    As researchers, we should be “listening to those doubting, because there is nothing to hide” as Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Food Security and Nutrition David Nabarro stated in The Hague. But this may not suffice to get all on board.

    Therefore we should be ready to handle “nonbelievers” who want to stay “on the outside” and perhaps even value their role, as it guarantees the ethical and inclusive nature of the coalitions we engage in. One way of doing so could be to create a dedicated, independent advisory committee or panel that includes, or at least carefully listens to, these “nonbelievers”.

    I believe these are two key ingredients to making agricultural development coalitions for development work and two major factors to be considered by other development fora like the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation. We need dynamic interaction between members, and active engagement with critics. We all want a sustainable future for our food system and I believe these steps can take us there.


    VidalAlain Vidal is a Senior Advisor on Capacity Development and Partnerships for the CGIAR Consortium. He is seconded to the CGIAR Consortium by the French Ministry of Agriculture, Agribusiness and Forestry.

    We are on the ball: how to achieve the new global development goals

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    By Lilianne Ploumen, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands

     
    We are approaching a critical year. In 2015 the international community is expected to reach agreement on a set of new goals for international development, as a follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals. The new goals will address sustainability in the broadest sense and we will need to implement them as effectively as possible. And this is where I believe that the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation – which I co-chair – can make a big contribution.

    Recent developments…

     
    The Global Partnership aims to go beyond the traditional means and methods of development aid. Acting alone, states can no longer respond effectively to today’s development challenges, as these are becoming increasingly transnational and complex. States must not only cooperate more to tackle them; they must also work together with key partners from civil society, the private sector, local governments, regional organisations, trade unions, international and national development banks, and so on. These actors have indispensable knowledge and expertise that can make all the difference.

    These new trends can also be seen in the way international development is funded. Development aid from governments still plays a key role, but it has to be complemented by alternative sources of finance. More and more, developing nations are working together. Or we cooperate with one developing country to support a third country in what we call triangular cooperation. And in recent years the private sector has also become a significant player in this area. Such investments make an important contribution to developing economies.

    … have prompted a novel response …

     
    The Global Partnership is a useful framework that functions as an umbrella for these and other developments. By acting like a broker and bringing together the various actors, both old and new, it identifies windows of opportunity for new partnerships. By sharing practical details on what works and what doesn’t, actors have access to a continuously evolving pool of best practices. And through international forums, we draw attention to the added value brought by these multi-stakeholder partnerships.

    We work on the principle that stakeholders in developing countries take the lead in achieving development, while development partners provide the support. By opening its membership to all stakeholders involved, the Global Partnership is uniquely inclusive. This principle is reflected in our Steering Committee, which includes representatives of recipients, providers and recipient-providers of development assistance, as well as representatives of the private sector, parliaments, local governments, civil society, foundations, development banks, the UNDP and OECD. Best practice sharing and mutual learning between such a diversity of actors is essential in order to provide the most effective policy solutions to development challenges.

    The Global Partnership proactively monitors its members’ progress on meeting their development goals. This fosters mutual accountability and learning. Our members hold each other to their commitments on a regular basis. Here too, countries themselves take the lead: monitoring relies on their own data and processes. In order for international development to have a lasting effect, it should be geared towards the local country context.

    … that serves to strengthen the new global goals for development

     
    Engaging a wide variety of actors in the spirit of true partnership; collecting best practices; holding each other to account, and in so doing making development co-operation more effective: this is what the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation can bring to the table when it comes to the new global goals for development.


    FotoPloumenLilianne Ploumen is Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands. She is one of the three Co-chairs of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation along with Minister of Finance, Economic Planning & Development of Malawi, Goodall Edward Gondwe, and Foreign Affairs Secretary of Mexico​, José Antonio Meade Kuribreña.

    Need to Enforce Mutual Accountability for Better Post-2015 Development Co-operation

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    By Taekyoon Kim, Associate Professor of Graduate School of International Studies, Seoul National University, South Korea

     
    Accountability is a crosscutting pillar of the post-2015 development agenda. It is crucial to delivering development effectiveness, along with the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and their means of implementation.

    Albeit among various frameworks and global partnerships for development, the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation stands out in terms of devising ways to hold aid partners accountable.

    The UN Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) has also been an enduring facilitator in shaping renewed partnerships for development co-operation, collecting vantage points for launching global accountability mechanisms to make sustainable development happen.

    The Global Partnership is a multi-stakeholder partnership involving not only governments and international organisations but also non-state actors including CSOs. Even BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – emerging as non-OECD-DAC donors can be integrated into this open partnership. The Global Partnership’s architecture of global accountability not only goes beyond government-centred approaches but is designed as a true multi-stakeholder partnership where actors interact at both the country and international levels. Its vision of global accountability is based on combining existing country-level mechanisms with strong regional and global frameworks. But having more partners in development co-operation requires much clearer accountability to mark different participants’ mandates; otherwise buck-passing will become a problem.

    We need to rigorously redefine accountability to prevent its utility from falling into mere political rhetoric without practicality. Such an effort can also make the Global Partnership more accountable and sustainable.

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    A new conceptualisation of mutual accountability can be explained by the following three components: responsibility, answerability, and enforceability.

    First, responsibility is key to accountability in that those in authority must clearly define their duties and performance standards to enable transparent and objective assessment of their behaviour. Clear identification of who is responsible for what at the start of aid programmes also helps avoid confusion over who holds other partners to account for what throughout aid programmes.

    Second, answerability requires public officials and institutions to justify their actions and decisions to those who are affected by them. In development, power relationships between individuals and state institutions, or between aid providers and programme partners are often asymmetrical. Enhancing information sharing transforms these asymmetries by empowering partner countries to better influence the aid-giving countries’ behaviour. Sharing information symmetrically also promotes quality of monitoring and evaluation.

    Last but not least, enforceability requires public institutions to monitor public officials and institutions’ compliance with established standards, and to sanction officials who do not comply. They should also take appropriate corrective and remedial action when required. Enforcing accountability is not only about penalties, but also about ensuring that fair and systematic mechanisms assess partner countries’ compliance with agreed responsibilities. In this sense, enforcement mechanisms are the last resort for partner countries to hold each other accountable through inspection or rigorous oversight.

    All in all, mutual accountability requires all three elements of responsibility, answerability, and enforceability to be organically connected. Thus, effective accountability requires steady and reliable information and communication between stakeholders as well as the means to impose penalties when required. In principle, any partner who violates standardised principles should be excluded from development partnerships.

    However, international aid agencies and traditional donors that meet these three conditions are very rare. Indeed, it is not easy to satisfy them all simultaneously. They can do so by trying to be more open and attentive to serious complaints arising during programme implementation, by adapting to changing needs throughout aid programme cycles, and by complying with sanctions when their performances are properly inspected in accordance with complaints.

    Enforceability is the most taxing element, mainly because both donors and recipients are reluctant to adopt mechanisms that may hold back their sovereign decisions. Aid recipients also tend to see all three components as a threat or organised shackles by which traditional donors aim to rule their behaviour. Nevertheless, excluding enforcement will render accountability mechanisms meaningless for holding partners accountable. It is unfortunate that both discussions on the Global Partnership and UN processes for the post-2015 agenda lack genuine consideration of how to enforce mutual accountability.

    In a nutshell, the next round of inter-governmental processes for the post-2015 development agenda should include the three following aspects.

    First, mutual accountability should operate not only at country-level, but also internationally. Discussion should harness ways to link country accountability processes with global mechanisms. Second, mutual accountability mechanisms must have full participation of networks representing parliaments, civil society organisations, local governments, businesses and even non-OECD-DAC donors such as BRICS countries. Third, enforcement mechanisms should be a prerequisite for mutual accountability at both country and international level.

    In so doing, it is worth noting that a centralised enforcement institute, which can impose penalties on the rule impingement beyond state boundaries, would prompt political backlash from newly emerging donors or programme partner countries. It is also important to note that the overemphasis on enforceability could politicise aid effectiveness, while still fully acknowledging that enforcement mechanisms are required at the international level as a key to consolidating accountability. Therefore, more discussion is needed on how to align enforcement mechanisms between aid donors and partner countries for development processes post-2015.

    In this regard, the Global Partnership already aims to provide a political space for development discussions on better enforcement mechanisms, on the basis of a multi-stakeholder partnership. The Global Partnership should take a further initiative to carry the resulting enforcement mechanisms to inform upcoming UN dialogues for the post-2015 era.


    KimbioTaekyoon Kim is an Associate Professor of International Development at the Graduate School of International Studies (GSIS), Seoul National University, South Korea. He can be contacted at: oxonian07@snu.ac.kr.

    Enhancing Bangladesh’s development co-operation through AIMS

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    By Mohammad Mejbahuddin Secretary, Economic Relations Division, Government of Bangladesh

     
    Globally, the data revolution is underway – offering both policy makers and ordinary citizens unprecedented new opportunities to make informed decisions. The UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Post-2015 Development Agenda, in its 2013 Report, drew attention toward a number of transformational shifts that will be required for inclusive sustainable development through enhanced global partnership. In order to translate this vision into reality, goals or targets relating to development efforts will have to be rigorously monitored to assess impacts. The Secretary General’s Independent Expert Advisory Group (IEAG), in its A World that Counts Report published on November 6, 2014, underscores the need for data standards to facilitate openness, and specifically standards that accommodate open, disaggregated, accessible, timely and comparable data that caters to the needs of a wide range of users. This trend toward open data has gathered momentum following the realisation that transparency and mutual accountability are essential for effective development.

    The issue came to the forefront during the third High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Accra in 2008 and has been a prominent topic in the global aid effectiveness agenda since then. Keeping with this global trend, Bangladesh has become one of the few countries in the world to set up a locally developed online aid information platform called Bangladesh Aid Information Management System, or Bangladesh (AIMS) – a web-based software application that will help the country to track and manage its aid flows.

    AIMS is a publicly accessible database that captures data on aid flows of a given country. This kind of online database helps both development partners and recipient countries to track where the aid is going, which groups in the society are getting benefits and what is being achieved. More importantly, it will provide a window into the channels of aid delivery and the overall quality of aid management in Bangladesh. The overall objective of such a database is to provide common aid data for government, development partners, CSOs and other stakeholders.

    There has to be big bang for bucks if we want to have effective development partnerships. In order to make it happen, we need comprehensive, comparable, timely and easily accessible data on foreign assistance. This helps the government in coordination and planning while also allowing development partners to know how their assistance is being used for what purposes and the sector composition of investments. It helps civil society, media and academia to measure the quality of aid expenditure while critically analysing our efforts and providing pragmatic and honest suggestions to ensure better results of development partnerships. All of this will ensure a stronger impact of development efforts on the lives of the people. Transparency in aid management will also assist legislative oversights of public expenditure for development.

    In the recent High Level Meeting on Effective Development Cooperation in Mexico earlier this year, countries reiterated to accelerate their efforts to fulfill the pledges made in various international forums to provide timely and forward-looking data so that the gains made on transparency at the global level get translated into real benefits at country level.

    The same was also echoed in the “Joint Cooperation Strategy” signed in 2010 between the government of Bangladesh and major development partners. In addition, Bangladesh’s improvements in governance through the enactment of the Right to Information Act and the establishment of an Independent Information Commission has contributed to promoting data openness. Against this backdrop, Bangladesh decided to develop a home-grown, economical and technically robust database to manage aid.

    BangladeshAIMS2There has to be big bang for bucks if we want to have effective development partnerships. In order to make it happen, we need comprehensive, comparable, timely and easily accessible data on foreign assistance.

    It is satisfying to note that the response from our development partners since the establishment of AIMS is very encouraging. For the majority of donors on the system, we now have a quite comprehensive data set. It is expected that regular and timely data sharing on AIMS will ensure better availability of comprehensive, accurate and timely aid data to get a complete picture of aid flows. This will improve national budgeting and promote sector level alignment with national priorities spelled out in the 6th Five Year Plan.

    Besides, through the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), a group of voluntary donors, recipients and civil society organisations has developed a global standard defining exactly the type of aid information that is needed to ensure effective development cooperation at country level. The Economic Relations Division with the support of IATI is preparing to implement automated data transfer in the near future.
    Bangladesh aspires to become a middle-income country by 2021. To overcome the challenges of poverty, the core goal of our partnership should be achievement of substantive development results. It is essential that the development partners respect strong country ownership by ensuring alignment of their programmes with national priorities in different sectors and by using our country systems in respect of Public Financial Management (PFM) and Procurement. Sharing aid data through a national database is a part and parcel of ensuring country ownership.

    Bangladesh AIMS is expected to play a key role in promoting effective development partnership in Bangladesh. It must be remembered that enhancing aid transparency and ensuring better aid management are joint responsibilities of the government and the development partners and by working together we can move faster towards that goal.


    bangladeshbioMohammad Mejbahuddin is Secretary of the Economic Relations Division in the Government of Bangladesh and also a Steering Committee member of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation. The article was first published on The Daily Star – an English language newspaper in Bangladesh.

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