Annual IATI Members Assembly Statement by Gilbert F. Houngbo IFAD President Rome, 3 October 2017
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me welcome you to the second annual IATI Members’ Assembly. As a signatory for nearly six years now, we are proud to host this meeting.
As the Secretary-General recently affirmed in his report on repositioning the UN development system, strategic partnerships and greater coherence will be needed to replace fragmentation and competition if we want to help countries to “unlock the trillions” needed to achieve the SDGs. Strong partnerships are built on trust – and transparency is vital if we really want to build that trust.
The recent growth in global and national initiatives demonstrates the commitment to the 2030 Agenda. But we know that its achievement is by no means assured. At the current rate of progress, for example, we are not on track to eradicate hunger by 2030. Indeed, the numbers of hungry people are now on the rise again, after declining steadily for more than a decade now.
Can we still achieve the goal of zero hunger? I truly believe the answer is “yes” – but only if we act, and if we act now, to establish inclusive and sustainable food systems, and to build the resilience of poor rural people, and the ecosystems they depend on.
With so many stakeholders involved in this process – and indeed in the entire 2030 Agenda – transparent and accessible data is more important than ever. We know, and I think research has confirmed this, that transparency is a transformational force. When citizens can easily access public information about the actions that affect their well-being, they are better equipped to hold their leaders accountable and to participate in the decisions that affect their lives.
For example, a robust body of evidence, including a recent World Bank policy research report shows that the quality and quantity of economic data released by governments is significantly correlated with the effectiveness of their policies. Transparency truly opens up development to all stakeholders, whose potential we must tap if we are to reach the ambition of the 2030 Agenda.
Transparency yields other benefits as well. It enables development agencies, governments and donors to identify gaps and overlaps in development work. It helps them evaluate the projects they support and to learn from each other’s experiences. Cooperation is key to maximizing the impact of development work. And the key to cooperation again is transparency.
This is the vision of development the IATI is working to achieve, and its Standard is facilitating a worldwide shift in how development is done nowadays. Any standard’s effectiveness, however, is dependent on how many adopt that standard. As a result, full compliance with the IATI is one of the many concrete steps in IFAD’s transparency and accountability initiatives.
On both corporate and operational levels, we recognize that increased transparency encourages more careful monitoring and leads to higher-quality data, which in turn results in more effective resource use. To increase accountability through reliable data, IFAD is planning to publicly disclose project completion and audit reports, as well as make information accessible about project locations, financial resources and trends.
These efforts are part of our drive to implement a coherent, corporate-wide development effectiveness framework that helps us manage results and improve our data reporting. A paper presented to our Executive Board last month, ‘Increasing Transparency for Greater Accountability’, puts increased transparency at the centre of IFAD’s business model for the duration of our eleventh replenishment, i.e. the cycle 2019 to 2021.
Ladies and gentlemen, because data transparency and reliability increase accountability to all stakeholders, IFAD will also encourage country governments and other partners to publish financial data and results from their programmes, those programmes that they support. Henceforth, agreements to this effect will be recorded in IFAD’s country strategy reports. In addition to national governments, our donors and cofinancers will also benefit from a broader, more detailed picture of our projects’ results.
IFAD is one of many IFIs which are committing themselves to the transparency standards laid out by IATI. Indeed, IFIs show consistently high levels of commitment to the IATI: they provide considerable financial support to the Secretariat and are the highest-performing group of the IATI publishers. Nevertheless, to achieve the highest levels of transparency, all development agencies must continue to strengthen their publishing commitments. And this is one of IFAD’s priorities.
For example, since we first began publishing to the IATI in 2014, IFAD has provided additional data on sectors and aggregated disbursements. We have just concluded a further achievement: finalizing the first phase of automating the data we publish and therefore increasing the publishing frequency from yearly to monthly. In the near future, IFAD will provide disbursement transactions, GIS data on project areas and links to project documents as well.
If we are to achieve the 2030 Agenda, this is the model we will have to move toward. We must collaborate and learn from each other in order to maximize the effectiveness of development finance. We need to embrace a culture of results and a culture of innovation, so that we can improve the lives of the world’s poorest people. And most importantly, we should encourage our partners – governments, donors and smallholders themselves – to do the same.
In short, we must do development differently. Transparency, accountability and oversight are the guiding values that will help us in this process. They must also be the ultimate goals of our conversations over the next three days. I therefore look forward to collaborating with all of you to determine how we can work together to increase the openness and effectiveness of aid.
I thank you.