2012 Highlights: A year in global transparency

Photo caption: ONE members at the SEC earlier this year

Highlights from 2012 in the areas of aid transparency, natural resource transparency, budget transparency and technology. 

This year, ONE partnered with Publish What You Fund for their 2012 Aid Transparency Index launches in Washington, D.C., and Brussels, Belgium. The 2012 Aid Transparency Index is the premier ranking of donors based on the information they make public about their development programs (and what they don’t). The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) won top honors, earning the No. 1 spot in the 2012 Index, with a score of 91 out of 100.

Photo caption: PWYF launch in Washington, D.C. 

At the Fourth High-Level Panel for Aid Effectiveness in Busan, Canada and the United States finished off 2011 with a big victory for aid transparency, when they both committed to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). But 2012 isn’t over yet, and the US government has committed to both publishing their IATI implementation schedule and publishing their first dataset to the IATI database before we ring in 2013. Once the US and Canada start reporting, more than three-quarters of global ODA will be transparent via the IATI standard.

Our work on ensuring that resource-rich countries receive a fair deal for their natural resources marked several important milestones this year. In the US, the SEC published rules to implement the Cardin-Lugar Transparency amendment, ensuring that the spirit of the amendment was upheld. It is now mandatory for all companies listed on US stock exchanges to disclose what they pay to governments for extracting oil, gas and minerals.

By making payments public, the rule will empower all citizens, especially in Africa, with valuable information on government revenues that they need in order to hold their leaders accountable. Following these successes in the US, ONE has been working hard to ensure that the European Union passes similar legislation. As European leaders negotiated the details, we delivered your messages to European ministers. Adding a very powerful voice to the chorus was Lord John Browne, former CEO of BP, with this important op-ed. With European leaders supporting similar legislation, we will eagerly await a EU victory in 2013.

In October, the BBC hosted a debate in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia during the 8th African Development Forum on how to ensure that the profits from natural resources benefit the people, and not corporate elites. The Consensus Statement suggests better ways of using the money for people-centered sustainable development.

Back in June, the G20 countries met in Mexico, but we were disappointed that budget transparency wasn’t on their agenda. For 2013, we are glad to see that the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group agenda clearly includes fiscal transparency and tackling illicit flows.

Photo caption: Map of Malawi with open data.

Also in June, the Government of Malawi, AidData, Texas Strauss Center’s Climate Change and African Stability (CCAPS) Program and the World Bank’s Open Aid Partnership, gave us a game-changing map of Malawi, that showed, for the first time, a macro view of what donors are doing in Malawi, as well as poverty and human development data.

This type of innovation will help governments coordinate and plan so to increase effectiveness, especially important when we’re talking about scarce resources. And just this month, a partnership was announced between Sweden, DFID, USAID, and the Omidyar Network. Making All Voices Count is a $45 million fund to support innovations and new technologies that seek to improve citizen engagement and government responsiveness – the very building blocks of open government that lead to greater transparency and increased accountability.

The year 2013 will be another busy year for transparency and accountability. We are excited for the G8 in the UK, which we anticipate will include a “Golden Thread” of transparency and accountability. The EITI global conference will give us a chance to see how transparency in the natural resources is helping governments increase their revenues, and the Open Government Partnership annual meeting will accelerate momentum towards open government. We look forward to sharing with you the latest innovations and stories about how citizens are holding their governments to account for their development, and how you can help. Thank you for all of your support in 2012. We’ll see you next year!