Meet Our New Board Members: Q&A

Three new members have joined the IBP Board of Directors, bringing needed expertise and networks related to strategic communications, ministries of finance and the dynamics of global movements. They are Jane Ellison, a media professional formerly with the UK’s BBC and Radio 4 and now a trustee for Libraries Connected; Malado Kaba, the first female minister of finance for Guinea and an advisory board member for the African Women’s Leadership Fund; and Sofía Sprechmann, program director at CARE International, a leading poverty-fighting and humanitarian-response nonprofit.

Jane Ellison

Q: What personally motivates you about IBP’s mission?

A: International Budget Partnership’s core belief in the transparency and integrity of public decision making and, critically, in citizens’ rights to have access to information that empowers them to participate, inspired me to apply to join the Board. Throughout my career, I have been dedicated to evidence-based journalism and programme making. IBP’s ambition for pioneering work achieved through dynamic partnerships with civil society is another motivation.  I am excited by the global conversations and radical change that IBP’s agenda offers but also by the opportunity to listen, so fundamental to understanding context and assessing new priorities. I hope that my experience as a journalist and programme maker at a global public service broadcaster would be of value, with understanding of communications, public engagement and brokering partnerships. Independence, openness and inclusion are central values for me as they are the foundations upon which relationships of trust with audiences are built.

Q: What is one major challenge that you feel IBP faces at the moment, and one significant opportunity that you hope IBP will grasp?

A: Growing perceptions that capitalism is benefitting the few at the expense of the majority and that corruption is met with impunity have opened up new global conversations. New questions are being asked and contested about how we live and, more urgently, what the planet can sustain. The need for different ideas has become pressing, the realisation that the world’s economies will require substantial change seems more profound than it has been for a generation. This emerging shift will present IBP with new opportunities to restate its mission as more central than ever, with a focus on the integrity and transparency of government budgets as an essential building bloc towards an evidence -based resolution of the economic, climate and social issues facing the world.

A major challenge is to enable exploration of what optimal relationships between governments, local and national, and citizens might be in very different countries and jurisdictions. This is against a backdrop of widespread disillusion with public discourse, as people all over the world point to the gap between political rhetoric and everyday realities on the ground.

Malado Kaba

Q: What personally motivates you about IBP’s mission?

A: When I was a Finance Minister, I would often tell my staff, half jokingly, that we needed to stop be in a witchhouse where we cook unpalatable information so that our citizens will not understand it, question it and therefore hold us to account”.  I believe that by making government more open especially when it comes to the way we collect and spend public money, we empower citizens.  And this is even more important in a development context.

IBP’s mission and actions to make budget more open and accessible to citizens, to allow them to engage and influence public budgeting in a constructive way for an improved impact on their lives is what strongly motivates me.

I also think that fiscal transparency is a key element of good governance and that these elements positively contributes to attract the much needed investments in Africa for a much needed inclusive growth.

IBP’s value proposition about evidence-based focus on public finance is also an aspect I have a strong interest in, as it contributes to build and reinforce the data economy.  This is again another way to strengthen more forward-looking public policies, especially in Africa.

Q: What is one major challenge that you feel IBP faces at the moment, and one significant opportunity that you hope IBP will grasp?

A: IBP will carry out its new five-year strategy in a world that is increasingly and sometimes disturbingly polarised and in a world that also embeds potential conflicts.  This is a risk to IBP’s fantastic work, but this also brings opportunities as we see, in very different parts of the world, people reclaiming their rights to engage in the way public resources are spent and shared.  And IBP can build up on these forces to “open budgets and transform lives”.  I also believe that technologies and the private sector’s growing involvement should be fully harnessed to support IBP’s work in the 4 key initiatives.

Sofía Sprechmann

Q: What personally motivates you about IBP’s mission?   

A: In my 25 years of experience in development and humanitarian response programs, with a strong emphasis on gender equality and participation, I have come to firmly believe that transparent and participatory public budget processes are indispensable for making a dent on poverty and inequality. It is only when citizens are empowered to participate in public budget and service decisions, when public authorities are effective and accountable to citizens, and when spaces for negotiation between power-holders and citizens are inclusive and effective, that we can overcome poverty and injustice. Citizens, and the civil society organizations that represent them, must play a critical role in public budget processes – from formulation of such budgets, to their implementation and audit. IBP’s mission is focused on the very issue that is critical for furthering social justice, inclusion and equality, which has motivated and inspired me to join its Board.

Q: What is one major challenge that you feel IBP faces at the moment, and one significant opportunity that you hope IBP will grasp?

A: Challenging power is becoming increasingly risky in many contexts. Many civil society organizations are now forced to operate in ever more constraint environments. Across the world, many democracies are sliding further and further toward authoritarianism. In this context, the mission of the International Budget Partnership is more important than ever. Not only is it important to broaden the gains in participatory and transparent budget processes, but in some context we must work to avoid regression and losing hard-earned gains. Engaging a wide-range of stakeholders – civil society organizations, governments at all levels, donors, watchdog organizations and the media – is critical; IBP can play a critical convening role in this context.