Securing sustainable development outcomes through good governance and transparency

Dr. Sipho Moyo, ONE’s Africa director, wrote this blog post for Transparency International (TI) to help illustrate how public sector corruption makes an impact on development. To view the original post, go to TI’s blog.

At ONE we are enhancing our aid advocacy work by highlighting attention on issues of good governance and transparency as being key elements to achieving sustainable development outcomes, including better service delivery across sectors like health, education, and better management of natural resource revenues, as well as more efficient investment in infrastructure for growth – energy, water, roads etc.

Our take at ONE is that transparency is a cornerstone of good governance as it allows citizens everywhere to hold institutions and governments accountable for their policies and performance, and thus fosters trust and helps to minimize corruption. That is why we support the emerging global governance initiatives which seek to partner with donor agencies, civil society, and governments for better development outcomes – such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (CoST) and the Stolen Assets Recovery (StAR) initiative.

In further acknowledging transparency and governance as global concerns we at ONE are proud to have been part of the advocacy coalition behind the success of the critical Lugar-Cardin oil revenue transparency amendment tucked into the recent US Financial reform legislation. This requires extractive companies listed on the US stock exchange to disclose to the Securities and Exchange Commission all payments made to foreign governments of the countries in which they operate. This increased transparency will help to reverse the “resource curse”, which has become shorthand for the corruption, conflict and poverty that is too often associated with natural resource-rich countries. Shining light on the payments made by multinational companies will empower African civil society to hold their governments to account for revenue received – an important step in ensuring resources benefit all citizens, not just corrupt elites. We are now rolling this campaign out in the UK and Europe, which will force companies trading in those countries to be more transparent and thus have a direct, positive impact on economic growth.

The 2010 Ibrahim Index, Africa’s leading governance assessment, reveals a mixed picture about recent progress across the continent. While many Africans are healthier and have greater access to economic opportunities than five years ago, many are less physically secure and more politically disenfranchised. The index highlights both the areas of progress and the setbacks in governance, and points to the need to pay attention to the rights and safety of citizens if Africa must continue to make progress along a sustainable growth and poverty reduction path.

As we heighten emphasis on results we also believe that increased assistance should be given to core public sector institutions in developing countries for improving their capacity, efficiency, transparency, and accountability in key functions like budget formulation, implementation, oversight and procurement management. This will result in higher quality service delivery particularly as the role of parliaments, judiciary, audit agencies, civil society and media becomes more important.

Ultimately better governance helps fight poverty, improves living standards and raises development outcomes. With improved governance, infant and maternal mortality will decline significantly as resources allocated to health service delivery are fully deployed as intended. The same is true for improving education and boosting GDP. Furthermore, good governance has been found to significantly enhance aid effectiveness. Transparency lies at the heart of much of this, and will continue to be a core principle for ONE’s advocacy work across the world.