The Road to Addis Ababa: What’s Next for Budget Transparency and Participation?

By Claire Schouten, IBP— Jul 13, 2015

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This year has been an exciting one so far. We’ve been working with civil society organizations around the world to ensure greater accountability in the Post-2015 Sustainable Development and Financing for Development (FfD) agendas.

Credit: Flickr/UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Credit: Flickr/UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

What has the work entailed? We’ve been engaging governments, UN bodies, and other players, including debt relief campaigners and private-sector investors, to call for greater budget transparency and participation. We’ve drawn on a rich body of evidence, including lessons from the Millennium Development Goals and multiple rounds of the Open Budget Survey, to make the case that citizens need timely, accessible and detailed information on what governments are investing, spending and achieving. And to argue that citizens also need opportunities to participate in the entire budget process to shape and enjoy policies and practices that serve the public good.

Are we on good footing? Well, commitments to increasing budget transparency and participation are currently in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda document, whose final wording will be agreed at the Financing for Development meeting that begins today.  This is good news. But to deliver on this agenda we need to move on from text to practice. Governments need to be open about budgets and financing, publish timely, detailed, and accessible budget documents, and enable resources, spending, and performance to be tracked in line with development goals.

We’ll be joining the Transparency, Accountability and Participation Network and others for their FfD side event on people-centered implementation, to examine how the issues of transparency, accountability and citizen participation are reflected in the FfD outcome document. We’ll also be participating in a World Bank event on bolstering public financial management; an event on the role of data standards with the International Aid Transparency Initiative and others; and another on strengthening follow-up and accountability with the CSO FfD Group. We are looking forward to engaging government leaders and fellow civil society organizations for meaningful results.

And do we stop there? No! We’re continuing to engage on the Post-2015 indicators and monitoring framework so that budget information is made available to track resource allocation, spending, and results; and opportunities are provided for public participation in decision-making, monitoring and follow-up. Our thoughts on indicators are here, which we hope will influence the final set coming out in spring 2016.

This September, we will release the Open Budget Survey 2015. As the only independent, comparative, and regular measure of budget transparency, participation, and oversight in the world, it provides important data for Sustainable Development Goal 16 (to build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels).  The report will provide helpful insights and recommendations for governments to strengthen governance and deliver on the development agenda ahead of the United Nations Post-2015 Development Agenda Summit (September 25-27).

May the Addis Ababa journey be a fruitful one and may citizens around the world benefit from the outcome.  There is plenty to do to effectively and accountably implement the sustainable development agenda. Looking forward to working with our partners on the next steps!

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