Progress in Transparency in Busan

December 2, 2011 By Jane Kaminski

This week, Secretary Clinton reaffirmed  the Administration’s commitment to elevating development within American foreign policy by her participation in the fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness Busan, South Korea, the first such meeting attended by a U.S.  Secretary of State .

In Busan, Secretary Clinton pointed out the shifting dynamics of foreign assistance that impact the way the U.S. does development, stating, With official development assistance representing a much smaller share of the resources flowing into developing countries, we have to think differently about how we use it. I believe it must serve as a catalyst to spark self-sustaining progress.”  The U.S. government is adjusting its focus to partner effectively with emerging economies and the private sector to foster sustainable growth in emerging markets.  With experts touting the private sector as vital to progress in international development, USAID and the State Department have taken heed and are incorporating the private sector into their programs.  For example,  Feed the Future and the Partnership for Growth partner with other countries and the private sector to leave a lasting impact in the developing countries, alleviating poverty and hunger beyond the short-term.

And in a move toward greater transparency, Secretary Clinton also announced that the United States has joined the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI).  American membership to IATI signifies the United States dedication to more transparent, effective foreign assistance.  While the United States has been an observer of IATI since its creation in 2008, this partnership will make global development more transparent around the world, since IATI signatories make up 80% of all global official development assistance.  With the standardized open and common reporting procedures of the IATI, the United States and all signatory countries will be able to more easily plan and coordinate with one another to ensure that assistance is able to reach as many people as possible, drawing more people out of poverty more efficiently than ever.  As with the Foreign Assistance Dashboard, this is a meaningful step in making U.S. development more transparent, which the Administration has made central to its reform agenda.

The extended work on a final communiqué highlights the challenges of balancing the priorities of participating governments, NGOs and private sector companies, who are represented by the 2,000 delegates at the Forum.  On the agenda are contentious topics such as following through on monetary commitments, standards of governance, transparency, and accountability.