With the signing of the “International Aid Transparency Initiative” (IATI) in 2012, and the agreement on the new “Common Open Standard” for the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan in 2011, Belgium demonstrated its clear commitment to providing transparent help.
Transparency is one of the five key elements in the Aid Effectiveness agenda (laid down in the Paris Declaration and translated into specific promises in the Accra Agenda for Action (1).
The importance of this on the effectiveness of aid provided has an impact at different levels:
- partner countriesneed detailed, forward-looking information about the aid flow in order to be able to plan and draw up their own budgets. They also need timely updates on information about aid flow in order to follow up on their schedules,
- the donor community needs detailed, forward-looking information for an in-country and cross-country Division of Labour, in order to be able to ensure timely action,
- research institutes and the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD need this information for their analyses, background studies and for evaluations,
- the citizens of donor and partner countries alike need it in order to be able to ensure that their governments are reacting optimally.
Effective transparency requires:
- that information is easily accessible for interested parties which means it should be published somewhere online,
- and that (as far as possible worldwide) standards are used both in terms of content (which parameters, which information) as well as in terms of format (specific classifications, codes, deadlines when new data can be expected to be published, agreements on software).
In 2008 during the above-mentioned High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Accra, the “International Aid Transparency Initiative” (IATI) was set up (2) on the initiative of a number of bilateral donors, partner countries and NGOs. The purpose was to promote and implement this transparency.
Signatories of the Initiative agree to actually put the Accra agreements regarding transparency into practice by regularly publishing all relevant information about aid flow.
To this end, the IATI set up a standard that covers both the technical format as well as the required content. IATI signatories publish the data on their own website and communicate the precise URL to the IATI, that enters it into a register. This means that search engines and other applications (such as Aid Management Platforms in the partner countries, or interactive maps, etc.) can automatically select and process the information.
Common Open Standard
The success of the IATI finally led to an agreement between all DAC donors about a new Common Open Standard for publishing data about aid that combines IATI content and technical innovations with the quality and comparability of the DAC statistics.
With this provisional conclusion, a detailed, openly accessible and globally uniform standard has been achieved.
(1) Accra Agenda for Action (2008), §24 partim: donors will publicly disclose
- regular, detailed and timely information on volume, allocation and, when available, results of development expenditure
- timely information on annual commitments and actual disbursements
- regular and timely information on their rolling three- to five-year forward expenditure and/or implementation plan, with at least indicative resource allocation and will address any constraints to providing such information.